THE ABOMINATION is a book filled with sets of mysteries. It begins when a woman’s body washes up from the canal. She is not just dead, with two bullets in her head; she is clothed in the vestments of a priest. This “abomination” is the first murder case for Captain Katerina “Kat” Tapo, and she takes it very seriously. She will be reporting to Detective-Colonel Aldo Piola, who is waiting for her at the scene. The city of Venice is celebrating La Befana on January 6th, which is the Feast of the Epiphany, but it’s also “a celebration in honour of the old witch who brings children sweets or clumps of coal depending on how naughty they’ve been” --- and the whole city is having a good time. Some people are dressed in costume with masks, making the atmosphere that much more elegant.
"THE ABOMINATION is a complex novel with many twists and turns, and sub-themes.... Jonathan Holt can hold his own in keeping readers on the right track as they follow the well-hewn characters and their stories."
A woman disembarking a plane at Marco Polo Airport looks different from the other passengers because she is wearing fatigues (“since the war on terror, all American military personnel were encouraged [to dress this way] on commercial flights.”) She is Second Lieutenant Holly Boland, the daughter of a legend in the army. She doesn’t know it yet, but she will be conducting a parallel investigation to the one being led by Kat Tapo. “As she stepped off the shuttle bus…Holly Boland still saw only a vast military encampment of anonymous buildings, similar to every other US army post she’d ever been on. There was nothing to make her suspect that what happened in this place would soon test, and stretch, loyalties she didn’t even know she had.”
The third major character in this narrative is Daniele Barbo, who we meet in a courtroom while he is waiting to hear what the jury’s verdict will be for his crime. He is a mathematician and computer hacker on trial for a variety of PC crimes, including disseminating child pornography. He is the son of a fabulously wealthy scion in Italy, although his father wrote him out of his will. However, he did make arrangements for him to live in the family mansion, which he does. He is the creator and owner of Carnivia, “a gossip- and information-sharing social network based in Venice, Italy, with over two million regular users.”
THE ABOMINATION is a complex novel with many twists and turns, and sub-themes. As readers move through it, they will find references to Croatia, Serbia, trafficking in young girls who are seduced to come to Italy for jobs as nannies or cleaners (of course, they are forced into prostitution once they arrive), and drug smuggling, which happens every day. Jonathan Holt can hold his own in keeping readers on the right track as they follow the well-hewn characters and their stories.
Since this is the first book of a trilogy, readers have much to look forward to in the coming novels. As THE ABOMINATION ends, strings are left hanging and fans can probably find them tied up at the end of books two and three.
Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum on July 11, 2013