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The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston

The Monster of Florence

by Douglas Preston, Mario Spezi

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,033934,872 (3.53)124
  1. 00
    Waiting to Be Heard: A Memoir by Amanda Knox (cbl_tn)
    cbl_tn: The same public prosecutor in Perugia brought charges is at the center of both the Monster of Florence and Meredith Kercher murder investigations.
  2. 00
    The Sunday Woman by Carlo Fruttero (ehines)
    ehines: Very different books in terms of tone--one a rather disturbing true-crime, the other a sardonic murder mystery. But both have some interesting insights into late 20th-century Italy.
  3. 22
    The Innocent Man by John Grisham (Caramellunacy)
    Caramellunacy: True stories of corruption in the justice system. The Monster of Florence is about the search for a serial killer in Italy, The Innocent Man is a man falsely convicted and on death row.

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Showing 1-5 of 91 (next | show all)
Horrific murders made more horrific by the Italian justice system and massive egos. Fantastic research with personal involvement and a great book. ( )
  authenticjoy | Mar 29, 2019 |
Book on CD narrated by Dennis Boutsikaris.

In the early 1980s the residents of Tuscany were terrorized by a serial killer every bit as brutal as Jack the Ripper. Known as the Monster of Florence, the psychopath was never caught. In August 2000, Douglas Preston moved his family to Florence; he intended to write a murder mystery. As part of his research he met with Mario Spezi a local crime reporter and celebrated journalist. Spezi regaled Preston with various stories and then commented that the villa Preston and his family were renting was next to one of the most infamous murder sites in Italy. Very quickly Preston abandoned the mystery novel and began working with Spezi to uncover all they could about the Monster of Florence. This is their story.

This work has some of the elements that make true-crime books so fascinating. The reader already knows that the murders will happen, may even know some of the details, but the writers manage to build some suspense into the recitation of facts. While, in this case, the murderer is never brought to justice, there are plenty of suspects, including the two journalists, a group of Sardinians, a pharmacist, a “village idiot,” and much-talked-about secret satanic sect.

What made the work less interesting to me, however, was the necessary focus on the ineptitude of the Italian police, prosecutor and judge. Necessary because both Spezi and Preston became the targets of repeated investigations, allegations and criminal charges as a result of their efforts to write a book about the case. The result is a somewhat circuitous argument with no resolution.

Dennis Boutsikaris does a very good job narrating the audiobook. He sets a good pace, and makes the characters sufficiently unique so as not to confuse. Still, I was glad to have a copy of the text handy, because it includes a map and numerous photographs. ( )
  BookConcierge | Oct 12, 2018 |
I had the biggest sense of deja vu while listening to this book. It wasn't until the very end that I realized that I had read Umberto Eco's last novel, and it is somewhat based on one of the main figures in this book, though a fictionaliation. ( )
  Eric.Cone | Sep 28, 2017 |
This gripping true story involves the circumstances surrounding the investigation of a serial killer in Italy. Author Preston, who was writing about the unsolved crime, ends up under investigation himself.
  mcmlsbookbutler | Mar 10, 2017 |
Like so many of the best true-crime or thriller books, Monster started off with a bang. It sets the table with an exciting and gripping narrative that covers a series of grisly and perverse murders that terrified Florence, Italy in the 1980's.

The Monster crimes have never been solved, though the authors do have their ideas about who might be responsible and they name names.

Unfortunately, what starts as a fairly straightforward true-crime narrative morphs into what is essentially a critique of the Italian judicial system and an analysis of the Italian psyche with a little bit of "Hidden Florence" thrown in for spice.

The Italian system of criminal investigation is not only arcane and drawn out (one of the main figures in the Monster investigation was also involved in the Amanda Knox case) but also allows strong personalities to impede an impartial search for the truth as they settle personal vendettas.

The problem for me, was that the Italian criminal justice system is not particularly interesting. I did enjoy the background and history of Florence that makes up a fair bit of the book but there wasn’t enough attention paid to the crimes and why they might have been done as well as the motivation of the murderer and the effects of the crimes on all involved.

I felt like the authors, who were both caught up in the investigation, were writing to defend their roles in the investigation and to set the record straight from their point of view.

For me, the book just lost energy and began to wander to places that were not as interesting, though I did finish it and wanted to know who they believe might have done these terrible murders.

If you love Florence or even Italy, if you are a big fan of the serial killer true crime genre or if you really enjoy reading about legal systems and legal proceedings, you might enjoy the book.

Otherwise I would give it a pass.
( )
  blnq | Dec 27, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Preston, Douglasprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Spezi, Mariomain authorall editionsconfirmed
Boutsikaris, DennisNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Danchin, SebastianTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Volk, KatharinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my partners in our Italian adventure: my wife, Christine, and
my children Aletheia and Isaac. And to my daughter Selene, who
wisely kept her feet planted firmly in America.
—Douglas Preston

A mia moglie Myriam e a mia figlia Eleonora,
che hanno scusato la mia ossessione.
—Mario Spezi
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In 1969, the year men landed on the moon, I spent an unforgettable summer in Italy.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0446581194, Hardcover)

Amazon Best of the Month, June 2008: When author Douglas Preston moved his family to Florence he never expected he would soon become obsessed and entwined in a horrific crime story whose true-life details rivaled the plots of his own bestselling thrillers. While researching his next book, Preston met Mario Spezi, an Italian journalist who told him about the Monster of Florence, Italy's answer to Jack the Ripper, a terror who stalked lovers' lanes in the Italian countryside. The killer would strike at the most intimate time, leaving mutilated corpses in his bloody wake over a period from 1968 to 1985. One of these crimes had taken place in an olive grove on the property of Preston's new home. That was enough for him to join "Monsterologist" Spezi on a quest to name the killer, or killers, and bring closure to these unsolved crimes. Local theories and accusations flourished: the killer was a cuckolded husband; a local aristocrat; a physician or butcher, someone well-versed with knives; a satanic cult. Thomas Harris even dipped into "Monster" lore for some of Hannibal Lecter's more Grand Guignol moments in Hannibal. Add to this a paranoid police force more concerned with saving face and naming a suspect (any suspect) than with assessing the often conflicting evidence on hand, and an unbelievable twist that finds both authors charged with obstructing justice, with Spezi jailed on suspicion of being the Monster himself. The Monster of Florence is split into two sections: the first half is Spezi's story, with the latter bringing in Preston's updated involvement on the case. Together these two parts create a dark and fascinating descent into a landscape of horror that deserves to be shelved between In Cold Blood and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. --Brad Thomas Parsons

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:45 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Documents the author's discovery that his new family home in Florence had been the scene of a double murder, his relationship with the investigative journalist co-author, and how they both became targets of the police investigation into the murders.

» see all 6 descriptions

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