In the final book of the Carnivia Trilogy, named after the anonymous virtual world created by disfigured genius Daniele Barbo, American intelligence analyst Holly Boland and Italian cop Kat Tapo reunite to investigate dark government conspiracies.
Heading up her first murder case, in which the body of a Catholic bank executive is discovered on the shore of Lido Beach with his severed tongue placed next to his head and a weird mask placed on his face, Kat concludes the victim was subjected to a ritualistic Masonic punishment. Having stumbled on the possibility that someone caused the stroke suffered by her now-uncommunicative father, Holly has reason to probe the secret society as well. A former Army major, her old man had discovered that in the 1990s, hiding under the cover of Masonic fraternities, a clandestine NATO operation had trained a secret army of Italian civilians to fight a possible communist invasion. What the major doesn't know is that the CIA had infiltrated this network and was using small groups inside it to carry out its own politically motivated violent acts. And the Vatican was connected to these schemes as well. Meanwhile, Tareq, a brilliant, alienated young hacker of Libyan origins, takes the jihadi fight to the Internet. Barbo must find a way to stop Tareq from poisoning his website. Carnivia, the ingenuity and charm of which lent distinction to the first book in the trilogy, is less visible in the finale. But Holt's storytelling is much tighter and more controlled, and the characters are more believable.
In spite of a few scenes that stop the novel in its tracks by explaining complicated details about banking and computer viruses through dialogue, Holt's finale has more than enough rapid-pulse action—and compelling insight into Italy–U.S. relations—to keep the pages turning.