When we arrived at the Picos de Europa I knew that there was a final book that I’d put in the motorhome as holiday reading material. Be blowed if I could find it easily. However I had a good root around and finally dug it out from under the bag with the swimming gear in it. I’m so pleased that I found The Light in the Ruins by Chris Bohjallen. I spent a few enjoyable afternoons reading it , lying out on the bank of the River Cares behind the motorhome. Now murder-mystery is not a typical genre for me. But this book came with so many positive reviews, I thought that I’d give it a go.
The novel, set in Italy, flits between two time periods, the end of the Second World War and the mid fifties when a serial killer targets a once wealthy dynasty, cutting out their hearts as a calling card. The main investigator in the Florence police department discovers that she has links with the family. She’d been a partisan in the war. When badly wounded she’d hidden in an Etruscan tomb on their land
This seems a well researched work from a historical perspective. I came to realise, how clueless I was about Italy’s involvement in the Second World War. For example, I didn’t know how unequal their relationship with Germany was. The book casts light on their vulnerability from a much more bullish power. In fact they were in danger of being invaded by the Germans whilst being thought of as baddies by the Allies. Many of Italy’s historic artefacts were looted and taken to the Fatherland. This archeological and artistic plundering is an integral part of the story. No wonder they were a bit half hearted and surrendered so easily. It looks like their citizens were between a rock and a hard place. But perhaps this is often the nature of war.
Every so often in the book we hear from the serial killer, a complex individual who is trying to portray themself, by the gruesomeness of their crime, as mad. These are chilling little narratives which I found myself looking forward to. At the end of the book the reason for their vendetta about the family is revealed. I found myself drawn into the suspense. Strangely enough for a peace lover I found myself wishing that there had been a few more murders before the story ended!
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