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“It was like a civil war in the midst of the world war,” says a minor character in “The Light in the Ruins.” He is describing Italy in 1943, the particularly tumultuous period that serves as the historical backdrop for Chris Bohjalian’s newest literary thriller.
In alternating chapters, we move between the Rosati family in the Tuscan countryside in 1943 and Florence in 1955, where someone is gruesomely, systematically killing the Rosati women. It’s up to Florence’s only female homicide detective, Serafina Bettini, to stop the killer.