Savvy forensic accountant Alabaster Black is hiding in Rome from her former employer, covert U.S. organization “Rendition.” While there under the assumed name of Bianca Nerini, she meets Dante, an investigator, erstwhile explorer and member of the Roma Underground, a band of amateur archaeologists who map the city beneath Rome. With Italian artifacts disappearing at an alarming rate, Alabaster and Dante search for answers and create a trap for the thieves. Through a mysterious online contact Alabaster learns she is being followed, and with her safety at risk she is forced to rethink her chosen alliances and discover hidden truths about herself
Selected as Best Reads of 2015 by the Library of Clean Reads.
"A provocative thriller with a riveting and surprising plot." - M.J. Rose, International bestseller
"...the strong, captivating heroine and an allure of conspiracy and organized crime make this novel an undoubted success." - Kirkus Book Reviews.
"The book is an interesting cross between TV’s Alias and Camilleri’s Montalbano books. Each book in the series gives the reader a police case from law enforcement's perspective with all the teamwork needed to bring down the bad guys, plus there is the secret conspiracy stuff that draws our heroine into places she doesn't want to be, including dangerous situations." – Italophile Book Reviews
In the highly anticipated sequel to Roma, Underground, Bianca returns to the U.S. for her former employer, the covert organization Rendition, to investigate Cyril Sargent and Nasonia Pharmaceutical. Although ambivalent about the assignment and uneasy about her online “friend,” Loki, she is enticed into researching what Sargent is doing with insect genetics that might upset the world of cancer research and treatment. Old friends Farrugia and Gennaro uncover a twisted conspiracy from their past and join Bianca in Boston where they will experience conflicted loyalties, question allies, and confront uncertain enemies, as they’re drawn into the wasp’s nest.
"...the mood and pace remain consistent throughout this thrilling page-turner. Black is back and just as entertaining as ever." Kirkus Reviews
"As is his trademark, Valjan’s description of things, places, people and situations are vivid. This time the setting is Boston and the author's knowledge of the city's history, its culture, and its citizens are evident. However, his love for everything Italian comes through clearly in this novel too because it is infused with Italy's dishes, culture, expressions, the Mafia and the Italian characters Gennaro and Farrugia from the first book." – Marilyn for Italy Books Blog
Milan. Bianca’s curiosity gets a young university student murdered, but not before he gives her a file that details a secret weapon under development with defense contractor Adastra. Guilt may drive her to find justice for the slain Charlie Brooks, but she is warned by the mysterious Loki to stay away from this case that runs deep with conspiracy. Bianca must find a way to uncover government secrets and corporate alliances without returning Italy to one of its darkest hours, the decades of daily terrorism known as the “Years of Lead.”
"Valjan's characters, from Bianca to investigator Isidore Farrugia to the irascible Gennaro, are memorable and worth following, in this book and the others in the series; the international terrorism and tech investigating ring true, and the European tensions -- which I double-checked for reference -- are intriguing and of ongoing concern…Characters, plot, ideas, background: In THREADING THE NEEDLE, Valjan weaves it all into an international crime novel worth the read.” Kingdom Books
"I continue to be amazed at how well Valjan incorporates Italian political history into a great plot as he immerses us deeper into the lives of these characters that I now love. This time Valjan tackles government conspiracies that have ties to the years of terrorism in Italy from 1969 to 1984 known as the “Years of Lead.” I remember this time." – Library of Clean Reads
Bianca returns as an investigation into a public official's death squares Bianca and her friends against a backdrop of financial speculation, organized crime, and female assassins on motorcycles. Her tenuous collaboration with the mysterious online contact Loki takes on a new twist with the appearance of a brilliant young obsessive-compulsive man who joins her team. As new mysteries unfold, old enemies and Rendition reappear on the scene, and Bianca's group quickly discovers the Naples might just be the most dangerous city in Italy.
"I've read all of the Roma series books, and I found this to be the most complex and skillfully plotted…a deftly written novel and one fans of suspense will surely enjoy." Blogcritics Book Reviews in Brief
"Readers will be kept involved in Turning to Stone until the end. This is truly one of those books in which readers find [they are] questioning and doubting motives until very late in the book. I enjoyed the fact that I found myself unsure of things until nearly the end. The suspense and uncertainty keep readers guessing -- and pull readers deeper into the setting and emotions of the book." – AJ Thompson for Italy Books Blog