The Monster of Florence
A True Story
Douglas Preston with Mario Spezi
Between 1974 and 1985, citizens of Florence were terrorized by the murders of seven young couples. These crimes, committed by an unknown Monster of Florence, have never been solved, though many have tried. In 2000, Douglas Preston arrived with his family in Florence to write a new mystery, but instead, became fascinated with the Monster and teamed up with Mario Spezi, a well-known and respected Italian journalist, to investigate the murders.
The Monster of Florence is detailed account of the crimes and the investigation, which takes a look at a long-abandoned theory and uncovers a series of corrupt, but powerful Italian officials in charge of the case. Readers meet a confusing mix of magistrates, public ministers, prosecutors, the polizia and Italy’s carabinieri, and learn about these officials’ conflicting personal agendas. With the public’s increasing fear comes a series of arrests and imprisonments of shady suspects, including a false conviction of a violent peasant whose trial is loaded with unreliable witnesses and unsubstantiated claims. Included in this soup of investigators is a popular and sensational internet conspiracy theorist who is sure the crimes are the result of a satanic religious cult, something the government takes seriously.
Preston’s and Spezi’s digging results in a frightening push-back and lands Spezi in jail, just as their book hits the shelves. With Spezi in jail and Preston charged with obstruction of justice, the two journalists are now suspects. How they get out of this tangle is just as confusing as the investigation that got them into trouble.
The first half of the book describes the details of the murders and the second half, Preston’s partnership and friendship with Spezi. Readers will also learn about the ancient city of Florence, its history, art and architecture, as well as the devastating flash flood of the Arno River in 1966, which destroyed millions of pieces of priceless art and books.
Readers who like investigative crime stories will enjoy this account and the continued search for Italy’s infamous serial killer. Casual readers should be warned, however, of the book’s gritty violence.
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