Ashes in Venice: A Vengeance Thriller by Gojan Nikolich

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Date of Publication: March 3rd, 2022

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

A heartless psychopath with size 16 shoes, nursing home hookers and an irreverent Las Vegas homicide detective with a gambling habit set the tone for this off-beat tale of revenge and retribution.

Blackjack addict Frank Savic is deeply in debt and facing family problems when he’s asked to delay his retirement to catch a vigilante killer who murders other murderers in a manner the veteran cop has never seen.

While dead bodies stack up in quick succession, the motorcycle-riding policeman also finds himself reluctantly involved with a desperate mother who will do anything to get justice for her dead son.

Savic, his investigation complicated by a suspected FBI coverup and a prison bribery scandal, is unaware that the murderer might be the solution to his own financial and domestic dilemma.

Add a vengeful killer who seeks justice for his own unbearable loss and you have a teasing psychological thriller that blurs the line between good and evil and where surgical bone saws and spiders are just tools of the trade.

First Line:

Shirtless in the heat at night, Jasper Colt peeled his naked back from the filthy vinyl chair next to the open window.

ashes in venice by gojan nikolich

I went into reading Ashes in Venice thinking that this was going to be a standard psychological thriller where the cop and the killer do a cat and mouse chase, with the cop coming out on top in the end. I was very wrong about that. What I read was an intriguing thriller where I cheered the killer on and hoped the cop didn’t catch him. Weird, right? But I loved it!!

Ashes in Venice had an exciting plotline. Frank Savic is a Las Vegas cop who is weeks away from retirement when he is asked to postpone it to help with a serial killer case. Needing the money due to overwhelming debt, Frank agrees. As the body count rises, Frank’s personal life and investigation intertwine. Can Frank find the killer? What is the motive behind the killings? And what’s the deal with the spiders?!?

Ashes in Venice had a medium-paced plotline. I enjoyed that because it gave me time to process each chapter without feeling rushed into the next one. The plotline did pick up speed towards the end of the book (when everything was coming together).

What I liked the most about this book because the main character was morally grey. Take Frank, for instance. He was an old-school cop who didn’t think anything of roughing up a witness to get what he wanted. Towards the beginning of the book, there was one scene where he took a witness’s phone and threw it in a fridge. But, on the other hand, he was a doting husband trying to take care of his wife, who is in a nursing home and is suffering from dementia. I loved it!! Sometimes, I need a main character who isn’t good but isn’t bad, and Frank delivered that.

I also felt sympathy for the killer. He went through what is my worst nightmare (as a parent and wife). So, I understood why he started doing vigilante killing. Once his end game was revealed, I was rooting for him. I can say this with 100% honesty; I have never rooted for a killer not to get caught.

The last main character is William (aka Billy). He has been sentenced to life in jail for murdering the son of a secondary character. Billy is one of the vilest, disgusting characters I have ever read. He deserved everything that happened to him.

The secondary characters fleshed out the book and gave it an extra depth. I enjoyed the realistic portrayal of the nursing home that Frank’s wife was in. Having worked in one, I can testify that most of what is portrayed in the book is true.

I want to warn everyone that there is graphic violence and gore in the book. It didn’t bother me (I usually am not affected by stuff like that), but it might affect someone sensitive to that. There is also mention of rape and multiple child murders.

The thriller angle of the book was well written. I couldn’t get enough of it. The author kept me on the edge of my seat, wondering if Frank would catch the killer and what the motives were.

I felt the same way about the suspense angle of the book. As I mentioned above, I was kept at the edge of my seat the entire book.

The author amazingly wrote the end of Ashes in Venice. I loved how everything was wrapped up and finally understood why the book was titled the way it was. I will say that the scene with Billy and the spiders was one of the more gruesome and inventive ones that I have read. The end scenes were sad, and I wasn’t prepared for the final chapter.

I would recommend Ashes in Venice to anyone over 21. There is language, extreme violence, and extreme gore.

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