Tina Jordan
July 16, 2013 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Light in the Ruins

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Chris Bohjalian
publisher
Doubleday
genre
Fiction

We gave it a C+

You gotta admire a best-selling author who refuses to keep writing the same novel. With each book, Bohjalian flexes his literary muscles, crafting a ghost story, historical fiction, and now a police procedural, The Light in The Ruins. When a serial killer begins picking off members of an aristocratic Italian family — carving out their hearts with a bone saw — plucky, chain-smoking detective Serafina Bettini lands the case. But Bettini can’t glue the narrative together as Bohjalian buckets awkwardly between World War II and the 1950s. He’s certainly skilled at evoking the sepia-tinged past, but he has trouble fashioning a cohesive mystery. C+

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