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Roma, Underground: Roma Series, Book One

Roma, Underground: Roma Series, Book One

4.0 4
by Gabriel Valjan
Savvy forensic accountant Alabaster Black is hiding in Rome from her former employer, covert U.S. organization "Rendition." While there under an assumed name 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,


Savvy forensic accountant Alabaster Black is hiding in Rome from her former employer, covert U.S. organization "Rendition." While there under an assumed name 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.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
The first in a series, Valjan's debut novel explores the hidden history preserved beneath the streets of Rome and the even more elusive world of covert government agencies. Alabaster Black is a government analyst on the run after she compromises her position in a secret U.S. government operation called "Rendition." Her flight brings her to Rome, but, unfortunately, her former employers are hot on her trail. In the Eternal City, she meets Dante--a government investigator, amateur archaeologist and possible love interest--who lets her in on a huge case involving Mafiosi and stolen historical artifacts. Dante's passion for underground cave exploration leads the pair on several subterranean adventures during which they are afforded a unique view of Rome's history, while Valjan's passion for Rome colors his crisp, idiosyncratic descriptions of its geography, history and customs. There are also keen depictions of Roman social life and the media. Such attention to detail not only makes the city a character, it also makes for a more believable narrative. Although this isn't a traditional high-octane thriller, the book still manages to incite frantic page-turning and knuckle-biting reactions. Weapons and car chases are as deftly handled as pasta and bruschetta. Sophisticated subplots are conflated with ease and cleverly extended toward a sequel. Twists and turns are convincingly executed, but the artfulness of the structure is not mirrored in rhetorical finesse. For the most part, the author writes with a skilled hand, although important information can be revealed much too bluntly, and the dialogue is sometimes inorganic. Despite minor flaws, the strong, captivating heroine and an allure of conspiracy and organized crime make this novel an undoubted success.

Product Details

Winter Goose Publishing
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.71(d)

Meet the Author

Ronan Bennett short-listed Gabriel Valjan for the 2010 Fish Short Story Prize for his Boston noir, ‘Back in the Day.’ Gabriel’s short stories and some of his poetry continue to appear in literary journals and online magazines. He recently won first prize in ZOUCH Magazine’s inaugural Lit Bit Contest. He lives in New England but has traveled extensively, receiving his undergraduate education in California and completing graduate school in England. Roma, Underground is his first novel.

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Roma, Underground: Roma Series, Book One 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Celticlady1953 12 months ago
I have never been to Rome but I think it would be an awesome city to visit. So much history going all the way back to the 1st century. But there is another city. How much treasures underground is too great to imagine. The underground Rome is a big part of this story and it's treasures. Alabaster/Bianca Black, who is hiding out from a US organization called Rendition, she meets Dante, who is an investigator. They find that there are many artifacts and treasures being stolen and they set out to set a trap to catch the thieves. We learn the back story of both Bianca and Dante both along with other characters important to the story. Reading a book that takes place in Rome to me is fascinating and this book brought the flavor of Rome alive. From the descriptions of the food, the language and the history was written in such a way that it almost felt like I was along on the adventure. I could picture in my minds eye, the underground city described. The underground Rome is not the only part of the story. The author wrote a very suspenseful thriller that not only takes place in Rome but we get a glimpse into the world of a secret organization and a pharmaceutical company and genetics. I am eager to read the rest of the books in the series. I received a copy of this book for review purposes.
MayrasSecretBookcase More than 1 year ago
Alabaster Black is hiding from the United States Government. Over the past two years she’s had different identities. As a forensic accountant, she does forensic investigations of people’s finances in order to protect the country’s internal financial system and stop dangerous greed. But her latest report to secret organization Rendition ends badly and so now she’s on the run in Italy under yet another fictitious name: Bianca. In beautiful, historical Rome, she meets government investigator and amateur archaeologist Dante, member of Roma Underground, and soon their relationship takes her on an adventure underneath the city itself. Before long, however, she’s being followed, Italian artifacts start disappearing, and the two of them set out to trap the guilty parties. This was an enjoyable read! Conspiracy, double identities, car chases and espionage, all against the backdrop of magical Rome, with its great food and marvelous art history, make this an entertaining, intriguing read. Indeed, the setting is one of the most engaging aspects of the novel. The author describes the foods and locations in vivid detail, bringing the story to life. I liked the heroine. She’s strong, smart, and pragmatic, kind of like a female James Bond. At times the pace drags a bit but on the whole this in a well written and suspenseful novel with a strong heroine that will be enjoyed by fans of the genre.
SherryF 11 months ago
I love the concept for Roma, Underground by Gabriel Valjan…a woman on the run and an investigator and archaelogist on a treasure hunt…of sorts. If you like procedural novels, Roma is for you. Gabriel Valjan allows Bianca to take us step by step through her investigation, though there is more than one mystery going on. Want to visit Roma? See some sights? Eat some great food…and lots of it? Then lets follow Bianca as she helps her ‘boyfriend’ solve the mystery of who is smuggling stolen historical artifacts out of the country. Bianca’s step by step digital search and quick mind will have her ‘gang’ tiptoeing through danger as she tries to avoid discovery from her past employer, a covert US organization. I like that her investigation mirrored a forensic murder investigation, just surfing the internet instead of dissecting a body. She makes me think of Penelope Garcia on Criminal Minds. You must find the parts and pieces and put them together. Gabriel Valjan is very detail oriented in his descriptions of places and food. He takes us Underground, through caves, and dining in restaurants, showcasing the food enough to make your mouth water. My only complaint is sometimes the details dogged down the pacing, slowing the story and losing the sense of suspense and danger. This could be because I am an action junkie!!! I questioned how I would get through the entire series, but the deeper into the story I went, the more involved I became. I was already interested in Bianca, but the peripheral characters grew around her, creating their own dilemmas that drew her in, bringing with them an increasing sense of danger. Roma, Underground’s mystery is wrapped up nicely, but Bianca’s story is still left to our imagination…or the next book, Wasp’s Nest. Thank goodness I do not have to wait, because the entire series is available. I received Roma Underground free of charge from Gabriel Valjan.
Pure_Jonel More than 1 year ago
Valjan combines mystery and suspense, creating a unique novel set in Rome that easily transported me there. The setting was well developed, allowing readers from all over the world to picture what was happening and where. The intricate plot kept me guessing, trying to unravel the mysteries. At the same time, Valjan made sure to add some comic relief to the tale. I definitely had some laughs over this one. All of the characters in this novel, be they major players or minor ones, were fantastic to get to know. I thoroughly enjoyed how each of them added something important to the novel. They were also well developed, unique individuals. I appreciated how each of the major characters really stood out on their own, creating their own spheres that intersect with one another. This was definitely a fun, intriguing novel that had me thinking. It was a fantastic start to Valjan’s series that I would easily recommend to others. Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this work in exchange for an honest review.