Ashes in Venice - Book Review

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Ashes in Venice

Author: Gojan Nikolich
Genre: Fiction - Thriller - General
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Date Published: March 3, 2022
ISBN-10: 1684338913
ISBN-13: 978-1684338917

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GoodReads Rating:
4.31

Book Review of :  Ashes in Venice



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A gripping psychological thriller, Ashes in Venice, by Gojan Nikolich, opens with a gruesome killing. The action is mesmerizing, pithy, and crude. The killer, Jasper Colt, is methodical with obvious medical knowledge as he mutilates the body. Reader, don’t let the guts and gore keep you from the mystery of the psychopathic assassination. The setting in and around Las Vegas adds depth to the plot. 

The novel then jumps to bizarre vignettes of at first seemingly unrelated characters. Detective Sergeant Frank Savic is an irreverent motorcycle riding cop dealing with financial ruin brought on by the needs of his beloved wife. Maria, who is suffering from dementia, and is living in a nursing home. Tough-guy Savic reveals his gentle side with her. He is assigned the latest murder case, which complicates his plans to retire. His life becomes more complicated with the discovery of additional murder victims. 

Felicia Mendez is distraught when the killer of her thirteen-year-old son is not given the death sentence that she demands he deserves. So this tiny, feisty lady tries to take matters into her own hands. She appeals to Savic for compassion and more? 

The murder victims are distinct characters with horrid pasts. What links them? The first chapters seem to be disconnected but later converge as murders of murderers continue. Who is this killer? Does he have a murder blueprint? A schematic retribution plan? Is he an avenging angel? Gradually the murderer’s backstory is woven into the main plot. 

The author is highly imaginative and observant of visual details. A minor character is described as wearing a sleeveless tee-shirt “that came straight from a spray paint can.” A gangbanger is described as “loose and feral”… “packing his pistol in his ridiculous sagging pants, barrel-down against the crack…like it was some show of manly defiance…”. The author gives comic relief to the mayhem with comments like “the pool of guts that had tumbled from Lee’s tummy.” 

As Savic works the case, now involving multiple slayings of known killers, he realizes that rage and anger had nothing to do with the method of killing and mutilating the victims. Instead, the killer seemed to be delivering calculated justice, settling a score. What is the connection? The mystery of the killer and killings involves graphic scenes and complicated criminal characters, but the darkness is relieved by comic events in the nursing home. 

Gojan Nikolich’s writing style is a convergence of Dean Koontz’s imagination and Stephen King’s masterful storytelling, which gives the novel a lot of appeal. However, with an unexpected ending, the reader will have to draw his own conclusion to the question, “was vengeance justified?”


Reviewed by: Carole W

About Gojan Nikolich


Gojan Nikolich is a former Chicago newspaper reporter, editor and public relations agency executive. He graduated with B.A. and M.A. degrees in English Literature from DePaul University, served as a decorated U.S. Army sergeant with both the 2nd and 4th Infantry divisions and has worked as a journalist in Korea and Japan. He lives with his family in Colorado, where he and his wife once owned a weekly newspaper.





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