Jon Trace

Sphere £6.99 pbk

Released: February 18th 2010

Reviewer: Ayo Onatade

Ayo Onatade is an avid reader of crime and mystery fiction. She has been writing reviews, interviews and articles on the subject for the last 12 years; with an eclectic taste from historical to hardboiled, short stories and noir films


Jon Trace is the alter ego of Michael Morley who has written a number of thriller books such as Spider and Viper.   Under the name Jon Trace he has written the first of the Tom Shaman series. 

In The Venice Conspiracy Tom Shaman decides to leave not only the priesthood but also the LA area where he had his parish after he accidentally kills two men while trying to protect a young girl who has been brutally raped.  He decides to visit Venice hoping to find himself and decide what he would like to do with the rest of his life.  Unfortunately things donít turn out the way he expects them to do.  Within days of arriving in Venice he finds himself helping the police investigate a series of extremely brutal ritualistic killings. The investigation takes them back into Veniceís darkest history and they find themselves trailing through life in 700BC to the sexual decadence of the 18th Century right up until the present day with all the grittiness and murder that goes along with it.  As they investigate the murders they come up against a deadly secret that everyone involved in it will do anything and everything to protect regardless of the consequences. 

As could be expected this is a fast paced novel, which takes you back and forth from the past to the present. It is not the first time that an author has written a story where this has been done. Sometimes it works and sometimes it does not.  In the case of The Venice Conspiracy I think it does not. Sadly, I felt that this book read too much like a Dan Brown clone. The Venice Conspiracy would have been an excellent story if too much emphasis had not been placed on the historical aspect. At times I felt lost and could not reconcile the priceless artefact that was the basis of the story with what was taking place.  Less past and more present would have made this a much better novel. 

However, when it comes to Venice the author is very descriptive and this is one of the two saving graces for The Venice Conspiracy.   The other one is the characters. Having the Tom Shaman character as an ex-priest is a good premise.  If this is to be a series it will be interesting to see how Shaman as a character develops.






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