1943: Tucked away in the idyllic hills south of Florence, the Rosatis, an Italian family of noble lineage, believe that the walls of their ancient villa will keep them safe from the war raging across Europe. Eighteen-year-old Cristina spends her days swimming in the pool, playing with her young niece and nephew, and wandering aimlessly amid the estate's gardens and olive groves. But when two soldiers, a German and an Italian, arrive at the villa asking to see an ancient Etruscan burial site, the Rosatis' bucolic tranquility is shattered. A young German lieutenant begins to court Cristina, the Nazis descend upon the estate demanding hospitality, and what was once their sanctuary becomes their prison.
1955: Serafina Bettini, an investigator with the Florence police department, has her own demons. A beautiful woman, Serafina carefully hides her scars along with her haunting memories of the war. But when she is assigned to a gruesome new case - a serial killer targeting the Rosatis, murdering the remnants of the family one-by-one in cold blood - Serafina finds herself digging into a past that involves both the victims and her own tragic history.
Set against an exquisitely rendered Italian countryside, The Light in the Ruins unveils a breathtaking story of moral paradox, human frailty, and the mysterious ways of the heart.
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"An exploration of post-WWII Italy doubles as a murder mystery in this well-crafted novel ... an entertaining historical whodunit." - Publishers Weekly
"Starred Review. Thoroughly gripping, beautiful, and astonishingly vengeful, this novel is a heartbreaker. Bohjalian's latest turn to historical fiction is immensely rewarding." - Library Journal
"Starred Review. Mastering matters subtle and grotesque, Bohjalian combines intricate plotting and bewitching sensuality with historical insight and a profound sense of place to create an exceptional work of suspense rooted in the tragic aberrations of war." - Booklist
"A literary thriller ... a soulful why-done-it." - Kirkus
"A must-read ... stunning ... Bohjalian specializes in the suspense created when people are cut off, physically and emotionally, from society (as he did in his best-selling Midwives). Here he goes back in time to create that suspense, with a compelling female detective running from demons of her own as his heroine." - Tucson Weekly
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Chris Bohjalian and his wife decided to leave New York City in 1986 for "pastoral" Vermont after a wild and terrifying 45-minute cab ride that ultimately dropped them at a crack house being stormed by police.
Fans of Mr. Bohjalian are probably very pleased that he did not take the advice given him in college by the writer-in-residence when he applied for a writing seminar. After reading the short story required for admittance, the writer/instructor "slid my short story across the expanse of the desk as if it were a piece of profoundly disagreeable road kill. 'I have three words for you, she said. Be a banker'."
Instead he had the courage to follow his dream and take his own advice which he now doles out to new writers wanting to be discovered. "Have a thick skin. Read lots and ...
Chris Bohjalian: bo-jail-yen (first syllable pronounced like to tie a bow)
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Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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