The Light in the Ruins

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In 1943, the Germans had occupied Italy and were looting or appropriating churches, antiques, art, livestock and crops. The Rosati estate, in the hills of Tuscany was besieged by both Nazis and partisans and finally decimated, as the allies advanced and the Germans retreated.

Twelve years later, Francesca Rosati is found dead, her heart cut from her body. Detective Serafina Bettini, a former partisan, is assigned to the case. As she pieces together fragmentary clues, she revisits her wartime past. And then a second Rosati is murdered.

Chris Bohjalian is a comprehensive researcher. He thoroughly colonizes any topic that interests him, be it burn scars, Etruscan ruins, or the treatment of Italians by Hitler’s army. He is also a master of atmosphere: hot, lazy summer days, damp caves, cruel and ignorant soldier-vandals, the obstacles and delight of first love. Against these landscapes, some of his characters are almost spectral. Serafina and the Rosati women have roles to play but are not fully fleshed-out, in the way that the German officers and the Rosati sons are. Several plot points are left unresolved. What happened to the German colonel? Were there reasons to annihilate all the Rosatis?

In the end, none of these quibbles matter much. This is a fascinating book.

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Star Count 3.5/5
Format Trade
Page Count 320 pages
Publisher Vintage
Publish Date 2014-Apr-22
ISBN 9780307743923 Buy this Book
Issue July 2014
Category Mystery, Crime, Thriller


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