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The Light in the Ruins

The Light in the Ruins - Chris Bohjalian The novel opens with the grisly murder of Francesca, the daughter-in-law of Marchese Rosati, in 1955. The murderer tells us he is targeting the entire Rosati family. The question is: Why? While the detectives work to solve the crime and protect the other family members, the author slowly reveals events at Villa Chimera, the Rosati estate, during 1943-44. The lead detective on the case is Sarafina, the only female on the murder squad and a former Partisan fighter in World War II who was badly burned during the Allied invasion of Italy.

I thought I’d like this more than I did. It had all the right elements to hold my interest. Two of my favorite genres: historical fiction and mystery; a time period of great interest to me: World War II; and a great setting: the Italian countryside and Florence. Unfortunately, I never connected with most of the characters and subsequently found I didn’t care all that much about what happened to them. The only one I really cared about was the detective, Sarafina. Fortunately, enough of the plot and mystery surrounded her, so there was enough to hold my interest and keep me reading.