Thursday, October 13, 2016

Roma Underground

Roma series 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, 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.

“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

“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.” 
—Blogcritics Book Reviews in Brief


Meet the Author:

Gabriel lives in Boston, Massachusetts. He is the author of the Roma Series, available from Winter Goose Publishing. Gabriel has also written numerous short stories and essays found online and in print.

Connect with the author:  Website ~Twitter  ~ Facebook

My Review
Roma Underground was an interesting book to read as it was a sort of mix between Indiana Jones and James Bond. I enjoyed the mix between covert and archaeology.  I was particularly fond of  Alabaster Black. She was a strong female character with an interesting name. I liked the fact that the author gave the main character an original name instead of a common one. The book began at a slow pace, but quickly sped up a few chapters in. I was quickly addicted to the book, I literally could not put it down! I finished the whole book in two days! I can't wait to read book two! 

I was gifted a free copy of this book by the author or publisher.

A Curious and Twisted Morality

In early May 2016, Giovanni Arrivoli was found murdered in Naples. He had been shot three times and left in a ditch. Mr. Arrivoli, dead at forty-one years of age, had ties to the Neapolitan Camorra. The ‘execution-style’ murder raised eyebrows and provoked some bad jokes about gender equality within organized crime. Giovanni had been born a woman, had undergone female-to-male reassignment surgery, and became a senior member in a local crime family. His fiancĂ©e’s missing-person report would lead police to the body. Authorities had concluded that the murder was the result of either a feud, or as a warning to Giovanni’s brother, who was entertaining the thought of doing business with a rival clan.
            My point in bringing up this lurid case is that, while the mafia is traditionally patriarchal, with its concepts of honor and silence, organized crime has its roots in local culture and beliefs. The Arrivoli murder is just such an example. The image of a transgender mafia boss might seem the plotline for a bad sitcom to an American reader, but the acceptance of this boss’s gender is found in an ancient and socially accepted Neapolitan tradition, more so among those in the lowest social class.
            ‘Femminielli’ (boy-to-girl transgender persons) are commonly seen in Naples’ Old Spanish Quarter. If a man is effeminate, ‘femminiello’, then sexual preference matters. A man who is macho (‘butch’), but likes other men, is not acceptable. A man who has sex with younger men is -- acceptable. This harkens back to the ancient Greek mentor-and-ephebe relationship. The ancient Greeks had founded Naples. A man who likes to act and dress like a woman is also acceptable. Giovanni Arrivoli hadn’t violated any unspoken rules. There is another historical development to take into consideration: boys from impoverished neighborhoods either sang in choirs until their voices broke, or they were castrated so they could continue in the choir or sing in operas for roles intended for women. Naples had four conservatories for boys, though not just for the castrati.
            The murder of Giovanni Arrivoli was, it seems, just business and not a hate crime. Another example where tradition prevailed: Rita Atria, a witness to the inner workings of the Sicilian mafia, committed suicide shortly after the assassination of Paolo Borsellino, her protector. She is considered an anti-mafia heroine, but her mother desecrated her daughter’s tombstone with a hammer because Rita had talked to Borsellino and Falcone about the family’s mafia activities.

            Reality can indeed be stranger than fiction: while my Turning To Stone was with my editor, Italian law enforcement arrested its first Sicilian madrina, Teresa Marino, the godmother of the Porta Nuova faction of the Sicilian mafia. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your time in reading my first book and hope that you find the rest of the series a quick, addictive experience.