The Monster of Florence: A True Story
by Douglas Preston with Mario Spezi
It's difficult to imagine the same scenic place that brought us the Renaissance could also be home to possibly the most elusive and brutal serial killer. The Monster of Florence is the true account of the search to find this European killer and the unbelievable effect it had on the journalists searching for the truth.
Serene olive groves in the Florentine hills were favorites for young couples who wanted to be alone. It is here in these secluded clearings that the Monster struck while the couples were making love. Preston's novel is a two part account of this story. The first part deals with the discovery of the crimes and the city's unjust attempts to unmask the murderer. It introduces the reader to important characters including the head of the police, a bizarre fortune teller, and numerous Monster suspects. The most vital character introduced is the Italian journalist Mario Spezi, nicknamed the Monstrologer, who stops at nothing trying to unmask the true killer. Having been to the crime scenes and seen the horrific effects, Spezi has also had the chance to see the botched police investigations and shadowy collection of evidence at the crimes.
In part two we meet the next essential character, the book's author, Douglas Preston. Nearly twenty years after the last victim's murder, Preston took his family from their quaint seaside house in Maine to live in Florence to research his own thriller novel. Upon arriving he meets and befriends Mario Spezi and gets caught in the story himself, even being subjected to interrogation and threats to never return to Italy, while Spezi fares much worse having become a suspect in the Monster case.
The Monster of Florence, no matter how controversial, is an eye-opening look into the inner-workings of the Italian justice system. Preston's account is unmatched in detail having become part of the investigation and dealing first-hand with the questionable justice system. It leaves the reader wondering just how this could happen in a supposedly civilized modern society.
Review By Erin Gurry
Rating: 4 out of 5