The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi

Genre: Non-Fiction
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 315
Challenges: Clear Off Your Shelves
Source: purchased new

I added this book to my list after my friend Eleanor recommended it highly (you can read her review at GoodReads)

Douglas Preston is a successful mystery writer. In 2000 he and his family moved to Italy so he could work on a novel. While there, he met and befriended Mario Spezi, a journalist who for years had been writing about a famous serial killer in the area. This killer had been dubbed The Monster of Florence. When Preston found out that one of the double murders in the case had happened not far from the house where he and his family were staying, he wanted to know more. Spezi filled him in on the history and together the two decided to write about the case. Before long it the research developed into a personal investigation. This book is the story of their investigation and also of the questionable handling of the case by the Italian authorities. Preston and Spezi developed doubts about the official investigation due to the seemingly bizarre turns it took. At times it appeared to be a case of making the evidence (or lack of it) fit the most recent theory (whether or not the theory seemed realistic). Soon, Preston and Spezi themselves were under suspicion by the authorities and the case took yet another of its bizarre turns.

This is a true story that if it was written as a fictional mystery thriller would be dismissed as totally unbelievable. It reads like a fictional murder mystery because that’s what Preston writes, but this time around, he’s caught up in the story himself. So there’s some objectivity that goes by the wayside before it’s all over with, but it’s still a fascinating story.

It’s interesting to me that the current sensational media murder trial in Italy (American student Amanda Knox) is being prosecuted by the same person who led much of the case in this book.

I’ve never read anything else by Douglas Preston, but this book makes me want to check out some of the books he’s written with Lincoln Child. I had some minor quibbles with the writing, but I’d still like to check out Preston’s fiction.


Rating 4/5