Queue My Review

August 6, 2008

Review: The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston with Mario Spezi

The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston w/ Mario Spezi

I had never heard of Italy’s most notorious serial killer, The Monster of Florence.  Douglas Preston hadn’t either.  He’s an author of crime thrillers who went to Italy to research his next novel and found that he was living next to a field where the infamous killer had committed one of his many murders in the late 70’s to early 80’s.  Preston never got around to writing his novel.  Instead, he teamed up with local journalist Mario Spezi to write “The Monster of Florence,” a tale of the brutal murders that have remained unsolved to this day.  And in a twist that seems more appropriate for fiction, both men ended up under suspicion of the Italian police for being involved in the very crimes they were researching.  Preston was arrested on suspicion of aiding The Monster and planting evidence, while Spezi was even thought to be The Monster himself.

The book is divided into two parts.  The first part is Spezi’s story.  He was the primary journalist assigned to the story by the local Florentine newspaper and followed each twist and turn as it happened throughout the years.  The Monster of Florence’s style was to kill couples as they were parked in their cars in the hills outside of Florence and the killer would take a gruesome souvenir from the women after they were dead.  In fact, The Monster is supposedly the inspiration for the fictional serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter.  The police investigated and arrested thousands of people but each time they thought they had finally found the Monster, another murder would take place while the primary suspect was already in jail.

The second half of the book is Preston’s story, which begins after he moves to Italy in the summer of 2000.  Preston begins to investigate The Monster story after learning he lives next to one of the murder sites.  Despite the fact that a man has been convicted of the crimes, the case isn’t as open-and-shut as it may seem.  Spezi is convinced that the wrong man has been blamed and tells Preston he believes the real killer is still at large.  While researching this theory, both Spezi and Preston unbelievably get caught in the police’s investigation and they change from reporting the story to being the story.

Even though the book is about horrific murders, the city of Florence is a major secondary character.  The city is portrayed with such beauty and architectural charm that I wanted to research an Italian vacation.  The story of The Monster is gripping and you can easily see how frustrated investigators became over the years as they continually tried, and often failed, to prevent more killings.  “The Monster of Florence” by Douglas Preston with Mario Spezi is a tale where the action mirrors anything I’ve seen in fiction.


Reviewed by Kristina


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