Holt, Jonathan. The Absolution: Book Three of the Carnivia Trilogy. New York: Harper, 2015. 416p. ISBN 978-0-06-226707-8. $25.99. Fiction

In the final book of Holt’s "Carnivia" trilogy (after The Abomination and The Abduction), Venetian Carabiniere Capt. Kat Tapo is assigned a major homicide investigation—the ritual Masonic execution of a banker found on Venice’s Lido beach, with his throat cut, tongue pulled out, and a “hoodwink” mask over his eyes. Tech wizard Daniele Barbo, creator of the highly encrypted virtual world Carnivia, prepares to hand it off to its anonymous followers—until he learns that the site will be used to facilitate a terrorist attack that may well destroy Venice, cripple Italy, and lead to worldwide devastation. Meanwhile, Second Lt. Holly Boland has stumbled upon a Cold War conspiracy in her father’s papers. In time, the three story lines connect, their roots anchored in the CIA’s long-running interference in the fate of Italy. VERDICT Intriguing from start to finish, Holt’s nicely orchestrated plot—complex but never confusing—is a tremendous achievement, integrating numbers and mathematical problems, virtual worlds, hackers, worms, the Internet of Things, CIA infiltration of left- and right-wing terrorists, Masonic rituals, Italian postwar coups/scandals/corruption, the vast U. S. military installations in Italy, and, not least of all, Venetian cooking! These elements, along with fascinating characters and locales, add up to a great read that both instructs and entertains.

Library Journal, 140, no. 14 (September 1, 2015), 92-93.

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