Thursday, April 6, 2017

Book Review: The Light in the Ruins

The only other Chris Bojhalian book I attempted was The Double Bind and I had a rather "meh" response to that one. I think this one was far more appealing. At least, it sucked me in quite quickly, held me on the edge of my seat waiting to determine the identity of the killer, and ended with a satisfying conclusion.

The Light in the Ruins jumps back and forth between the war time of 1943 and a later time of 1955. A killer has targeted the Rosati family, cutting out the hearts of both Franscesca Rosati and her mother-in-law, and investigator Serafina Bettini must pursue the killer to call him or her to justice. During the war, eighteen-year-old Cristina Rosati lives with her parents, her sister-in-law, and her niece and nephew in the family's ornate villa. When German officers visit the estate to view the Etruscan ruins, Cristina falls in love with a German lieutenant. Her peaceful bucolic existence is threatened by this relationship and the actions of the Germans on her property.

Serafina holds her own secrets and her own history of involvement in the war. She must battle the demons of the past to unveil a path through the present and face difficult memories to free the Rosati family of the threat of immanent murder. Both Serafina and Cristina provide interesting character studies for the reader.

Although the book won't make my top list at the end of the year, it was fairly enjoyable and a far better experience than his other novel, The Double Bind. I believe his writing skills are commendable, and his story-telling techniques quite polished. While I never fell in love with any of the characters, I did hope for a redemptive end to the story. I was glad to have listened to the book in audio form, as it preoccupied my thoughts on my daily treadmill time.

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