The Monster of Florence – Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi

Title: The Monster of Florence
Author: Douglas Preston & Mario Spezi
ISBN: 0446581194
Pages: 322
Genre: Non-Fiction, Mystery
Rating **** (out of 5)

From the dust jacket:

Douglas Preston fulfilled a lifelong dream when he moved with his family to a villa in Florence. Upon meeting celebrated journalist Mario Spezi, Preston was stunned to learn that the olive grove next to his home had been te scene of a horrific double murder committed by one of the most infamous figures in Italian history. A serial killer who ritually murdered fourteen young lovers, he has never been caught. He is known as the Monster of Florence.

Fascinated by the tale, Preston began to work with Spezi on the case. Here is the true story of their search to uncover and confront the man they believe is the Monster. In an ironic twist of fate that echoes the dark traditions of the city’s bloody history, Preston and Spezi themselves become targets of a bizarre police investigation.

With the gripping suspense of Preston’s bestselling novels, The Monster of Florence tells a remarkable and harrowing chronicle of murder, mutilation, suicide and vengeance – with Preston and Spezi caught in the middle.

I am ashamed to admit that I have never read anything by Douglas Preston until this novel. I’ve been meaning to read his Pendergast series, and I have the entire thing for my Sony Reader, but I haven’t gotten around to it quite yet. Since this is a non-fiction book, I wondered if my lack of Preston knowledge would inhibit my enjoyment of The Monster of Florence. I’m glad to say that wasn’t the case.

The reason I copied the dust jacket summary, rather than writing my own, is simply because I didn’t want to give too much away. The book is contingent on its suspense; giving knowledge in advance would ruin the book in many ways. So I decided to take the easy (and safe) way out.

One thing I didn’t like about the book was the ambiguity of the ending. I’m not going to say any more about it because, again, I don’t want to ruin the book, but if you read it, I think you’ll understand my issue.


This book reminded me of Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. Both are novels recounting the exploits of two serial killers, both are true stories – however, in Devil in the White City, the story is told in third person and is in some ways from the serial killer’s point of view. In The Monster of Florence, we are outside looking in, with Douglas Preston as the narrator.

Overall, The Monster of Florence, while horrifying, is very interesting (though not captivating) and well-written. I was surprised that I hadn’t heard about the case before reading the book, especially with the high profile Preston claims that it received. I would recommend it to any fans of Douglas Preston, Thomas Harris (you’ll see why when you read the book), non-fiction, or mysteries. Happy reading!

Comments

  1. I’ve been on the fence with this book. I’m still not sure…great review though! šŸ™‚

  2. Hi: Every once and a while, I hit a book that I simply ADORED and Gilding Lily was absolutely the best. Thanks for the comment on the book – keep an eye out – I will probably make this book my next giveaway. Happy 4th of July to all you guys!!!!

  3. This sounds like a wonderful book. I like books that are unsettling from time to time. I’ll add this to my “keep your eyes peeled” list. Good review!

  4. This sounds interesting. Thanks for the review.

  5. I thought this one was interesting, but rather jumbled. I came away from the book not at all sure what evidence (since so much of it was gone) the authors were basing their conjecture on. And considering how much Preston harped on how false accusations ruined people’s lives, I thought his theory was pretty thinly supported.

    I’ve linked to your review here.

  6. I thought this one was interesting, but rather jumbled. I came away from the book not at all sure what evidence (since so much of it was gone) the authors were basing their conjecture on. And considering how much Preston harped on how false accusations ruined people’s lives, I thought his theory was pretty thinly supported.

    I’ve linked to your review here.

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