FICTION

The Light in the Ruins

Doubleday. Jul. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780385534819. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385534826. F
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OrangeReviewStarIn 1955 Florence, Italy, a serial killer is carefully, gruesomely killing off members of the Rosati family. Tearing out each victim's heart and leaving it on display, the murderer has something important to say about this family of noble blood, and Det. Serafina Bettini suspects it may have something to do with their activities during World War II. Serafina, massively scarred from the war, can't remember all that happened one disastrous night, and she keeps her partisan background secret. Back in 1943 in the Rosati family villa, German soldiers make themselves at home while investigating an Etruscan burial site, and the youngest Rosati daughter finds herself falling in love with a young German soldier. Weaving pieces back and forth through the two time periods, best-selling author Bohjalian (The Sandcastle Girls) illuminates the ruination of family, trust, and community in crisis in time of war.
VERDICT Thoroughly gripping, beautiful, and astonishingly vengeful, this novel is a heartbreaker. Bohjalian's latest turn to historical fiction is immensely rewarding. [See Prepub Alert, 1/25/13.]

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