I don't think I am a Chris Bohjalian fan.
Granted, this is only my second time reading him, but I have many of the same problems here as I did before. I actually requested this book from NetGalley because I thought the plot sounded promising, and I worked very hard to give Chris a clean mental slate on which he could impress me and change my opinion.
This book, by the way, is about a wealthy Italian family during World War II. In 1943, the Rosatis' property is of great interest to Germans who are looking to gather the archaeological artifacts from an Etruscan tomb on the grounds to keep in their own museums. One of the German soldiers involved in the museum coordination falls for the youngest Rosati daughter, Christina. A decade later, Christina's sister-in-law Francesca is murdered in a brutal fashion. Serafina, the first female homicide detective in Italy, has a connection to the Rosatis and wonders how the murder might be connected to the events of the war.
I just don't like the way he writes exposition or foreshadowing. He does it in such a way that his twist endings do not make sense to me in the context of the first 97% of the book. He has a tendency to give away plot points very early on in a way that, for me, saps the tension out of the back half of the story.
I really can't explain why these things didn't work for me without giving away the ending so only open this spoiler if you already know what happens or don't care. Things that bothered me:
1. There is no explanation offered for why the murders were so brutal. These kind of murders are usually associated with psychotic/sociopathic folk of the Hannibal Lecter variety and it was never really clear to me how or why the murderer devolved into the psychological state necessary for this brutal and complex a murder.
2. The murderer is Enrico, avenging the death of his brother and wife. Along with Serafina, they were partisan fighters resisting the Nazis during the war. They were hiding out on the Rosati property after Serafina was injured and Francesca gave them up to try and protect her husband. Enrico waited 11+ years to start killing Rosatis because he'd been in a labor camp in Russia. Either way, Enrico was not sufficiently developed for me to be shocked by or even interested in his murderous ways.
3. The love story between Christina and Friederich didn't serve a lot of purpose in the bigger story and seemed to me to be little more than obvious misdirection. I'm fine with misdirection, but I think that the elements of said misdirection need to contribute to overall story in a way that this did not.
4. The same can be said for the final bit about how Friedrich died and Decher stole his dog tags in a page out of the Dick Whitman Playbook of Life. Bohjalian had kind of set us up to expect that the murderer was one of the soldiers involved with the Etruscan artifacts, which is all well and good, but this twist didn't add to the story.
All that being said, Bohjalian's a popular guy so if you disagreed with my feelings on The Double Bind
, you'll probably disagree with me here, too. I seem to be in the minority as a Bohjalian skeptic.