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Review: "A Light In The Ruins," by Chris Bohajlian

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I don't usually read these types of books, simply because I don't read many mysteries. Or let's say none. But I picked it up and listened to it (following my wife's lead - she listens to books all the time). I have to say it was a completely engaging experience.

Basically a brutal murder mystery virtually without any real action, I have to

admit that I had no idea who the murderer was for a sustained time, but then abruptly about 2/3 through it became, perhaps not obvious, but clear enough to me that the prime candidate was one particular character. Another major plus is that it was set in Tuscany and because of my personal travels in that region I recognized names of towns and museums and restaurants that I have been to. Also the little intriguing habits, nuances and phrases that Italians use were very familiar and reminiscent of my time there. At the same time, this would be very appealing to any reader, certainly not needing time in Italy to make it worthwhile.

The main character is the center of the story and her image and personality is so rich and real that I feel as if she could be a true person. Although other characters are interesting no one comes across as vibrantly as she does. My only regret is that her personal story which is so strong throughout the book does not really play into the ending at all and she ends up not playing a huge part in the resolution of the mystery.

The murders are gruesome, but not explained in detail. No spoilers here. A patrician family from World War II is being systematically killed off 10 years later and the hearts

are being taken from the bodies. This recurring bounce from 1944-5 to 1955 works well and keeps the reader in the timelines of both stories, one more fascinating that the other. In actuality the German/Italian love hate relationship during World War II is almost more interesting than discovering who the murderer is. The intrepid detective, a most unusual heroine for 1955 Italy, is a complicated, damaged individual herself who you want to know better, but as she says, "I don't even know myself."

A very good read that would find most readers immersed in the dual stories. Romance, treachery, quirky personalities, betrayal, loss, art, and hatred all invite you in and keep you reading. Enjoy!