Holt's 'The Abomination' leaves you hungry for more

 

McClatchy Washington Bureau

Don’t be deceived by the title, “The Abomination.” There’s nothing unreal about Jonathan Holt’s excellent first mystery.

It’s solidly based in present-day Venice, with two women protagonists, Captain Kat Tapo of the Cabinieri and an American Second Lieutenant Holly Boland.

The “Abomination” is the washed-up body of a woman dressed in the robes of a Catholic priest — something that is viewed as desecration by the church. Don’t get distracted by this murder; there’s much more to come.

The third major player is Danieie Barbo, the creator of Carnivia, a worldwide online game based on Venice itself. Barbo, a reclusive genius who inherited a vast fortune but lives in his family’s decaying Palazzo awaiting sentencing on hacking and pornography charges — charges that may not be true.

Tapo is assigned the job of discovering who the Abomination really was and what she was doing in clerical garb. Boland becomes swept into the hunt when it turns out the military and the CIA is involved. Barbo and Carnivia is a touchstone for finding the path to the bigger mysteries. Throw in the 1990’s Bosnian war, human trafficking, sex discrimination, the Catholic Church’s views on women priests, drones, and you have a heady mixture for a first mystery.

Holt writes in a deft engaging fashion. He’s outstanding in sketching out his characters.

“An attractive young women, her face heavily made up, wearing a short black coat, galoshes, and apparently very little else, was hailing him (the detective at the crime scene) from the wooden walkway.

“You can’t come through here,” he said automatically. “This is a crime scene.”

She dug an ID card out of her pocket and held it up. “Capitano Tapo, sir. I’ve been assigned to the case.”

But it’s Carnivia that is fascinating. Besides being a reproduction of Venice, it also “uses encryption technology to keep its users anonymous. … So once you’re inside Carnivia, your communications are safe. It’s like having your own military-grade communications channel.” This is useful for many of the characters, both good and evil.

While the plot sometimes becomes too tangled for comfort, and the parts of the finale border on disbelief, there is something about “The Abomination” and Carnivia that is fascinating. Even if any of the three major characters don’t return for the next two novels, the set-up is in place for future reading.

“The Abomination” leaves you hungry for more.

-----------------------

“The Abomination” by Jonathan Holt; Harper Collins ($25.99)

Twitter handle: @TishWells1

Read more World Wires stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
Workers from a company outsourced by Mexico's state-owned oil company Pemex try to remove fuel after a pipeline spill of premium gasoline contaminated the Hondo River near the town of Tierra Blanca, Mexico, Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014. According to PEMEX, the Aug. 27 spill was caused by an illegal tap in the pipeline by criminals trying to steal fuel.

    Mexico sees massive fish die-off at lake

    Mexican authorities say a mass die-off of fish at a lake in western Mexico was not due to natural causes, but the causes are still being investigated and one research said that low water levels could have been responsible.

  •  
This file photo provided by the anti-government activist group Aleppo Media Center (AMC) shows a Free Syrian Army fighter aiming his weapon during a battle with Islamic State militants in Aleppo, Syria. Members of the Islamic State group have been marching in the northern province of Aleppo capturing areas under the control of the mainstream Free Syrian Army. (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center AMC)

    Tense relations between U.S. and anti-Assad Syrian rebels

    North of Aleppo, the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army is battling the Islamic State terror group over a vital supply route.

  •  
Guantanamo guards prepare to move a detainee to a recreation area in Camp 5 at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay on Oct. 18, 2011 in the Department of Defense handout photo.

    Uruguay: Guantanamo prisoner transfer not imminent

    A plan to resettle six men held at the U.S. Navy base in Guantanamo in Uruguay is still being negotiated and is unlikely to occur before upcoming elections in the South American country, an official said Monday.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category