Winter Goose Publishing
Published Oct 20, 2013
Trade paperback, 318 pages
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.”
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani
Threading the Needle is the third book in the Roma series and Gabriel Valjan has done it again. After reading Roma Underground, where we get to meet a great cast of characters, I had the pleasure of reacquainting myself with them in Wasp's Nest and soon after got to know them even better in this third installment.
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.
I was nine when I recall my grandfather reading about Italy's Prime Minister Aldo Moro in Il Corriere Italiano, a Montreal-based newspaper for the Italian community in Quebec. I remember the photos and seeing it on RAI TV station. I grew up hearing hushed stories of the mafia both in Italy and in Montreal. Any kid growing up in an Italian household can tell you this. And because most immigrants are from Southern Italy, it's not uncommon to have Sicilian, Neapolitan or Calabrese friends whose family members are in the mafia.
So this book brought back memories of my childhood. But it also enlightened me on this part of Italy's history. The story starts out with a powerful scene and the suspense builds from there. Valjan has a way of weaving in new characters, comedic relief in the form of newscaster Ragonese and the people's reaction to him, (cracked me up!) and subplots that all come together in the end.
Alabaster Black a.k.a. Bianca Nerini uses her masterful hacking and analytical skills again and with the help of the team, they prevent a terrorist act. Loki, her online "friend" continues to be a mystery and for the first time, I saw a more vulnerable and empathetic side to Bianca, reinforced by the last touching scene of the book. These characters just get better and I can't wait to jump into Book 4, Turning the Stone, which takes place in Naples, where my husband's relatives live.
This is a fantastic series and I'm happy to have discovered it. Highly recommended.
Note: This book is rated PG-13 for profanity in English and Italian, mainly f-words, religious profanity and some crude language. There is some violence, but nothing graphic.
To read more reviews, please visit Gabriel Valjan's page at Italy Book Tours.
Gabriel Valjan lives in New England, but has traveled extensively, receiving his undergraduate education in California and completing graduate school in England. Ronan Bennett short-listed him for the 2010 Fish Short Story Prize for his Boston noir, Back in the Day. His short stories and poetry have appeared in literary journals and online magazines.
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Disclosure by Laura Fabiani: Thanks to the publicist for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.