When a the daughter of a high-ranking officer at the U.S. army base outside of Venice is kidnapped, Second Lieutenant Holly Boland is asked to help liaise with the Venetian police in order to find the girl as quickly as possible. Boland contacts her old friend Kat Tapo, who is currently suffering the consequences of filing a harassment complaint against her former superior, and Kat reluctantly agrees to help. As the days progress and no progress is made, Kat begins to wonder who is really behind the abduction and if they are missing the point entirely.
A smart, sharp follow-up, The Abduction features two great female leads, an intriguing mystery, and tackles some difficult issues head-on, forcing the reader to really think hard about the fine line between right and wrong, as well as all those shades of gray that surround it.
When I read The Abomination, the first book in the Carnivia trilogy, I was blown away by how engaging and creative it was. A mix of thriller and crime fiction, it did a great job keeping suspense high while incorporating Italian politics, history, and difficult questions surrounding the American military installations in Italy. The second book, The Abduction, continues in that vein. Holt does an incredible job weaving a compelling story with serious issues, politics, and history, making for a fascinating and entertaining read.
Holt takes on questions of American torture of detainees head on in The Abduction. It’s a no-holds-barred criticism of America’s policies, and it’s very well done. Without giving too much of the story away, I can say that Holt naturally incorporates it into his story. Readers will be horrified by the turn of events, and how it comes into play, and yet they won’t be able to stop thinking about these serious issues and the CIA’s definition of torture as the novel progresses.
History and technology also collide in The Abduction through Carnivia, the fictional virtual reality of Venice, where the abductors make their demands, and also through a secondary storyline. Readers learn more about the United States’ controversial relationship with Italy over the years, especially when it comes to the military. And before I make this novel seem like it is anti-American, it is not at all. It simply calls into question decisions made and actions taken over the years. America is not a perfect country by any stretch of the imagination, and Holt takes it to task in his novel.
Kat Tapo and Holly Boland are two of the great heroines of the thriller genre; they’re well-written and three dimensional. Two female main characters isn’t what you’d expect from a thriller written by a male, and yet here they are. Readers will enjoy getting to know them further and will appreciate the Holt care takes in developing them. The secondary characters are also very well done; while readers may be able to dive into The Abduction without having read The Abomination, it’s much better to have the foundations from the first book while reading this one, if only because of the great character development.
There’s one final book in the Carnivia trilogy, and that fact saddens me. These are smart, sharp novels, and while I do absolutely look forward to seeing how Holt closes everything up, I want more books like these. If you’re looking to be entertained while also learning something and being forced to ponder hard truths, these books are absolutely what you should be reading.
Other books by Jonathan Holt: