Customer Reviews for

The Monster of Florence

Average Rating 4
( 284 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

True crime, well written

Douglas Preston is a great writer of mysteries and brings all his skills to this true story. Such great descriptions of the beauty of Italy and the people involved in this fiasco. A serial killer on the loose and the Italian police go in so many directions that it's cra...
Douglas Preston is a great writer of mysteries and brings all his skills to this true story. Such great descriptions of the beauty of Italy and the people involved in this fiasco. A serial killer on the loose and the Italian police go in so many directions that it's crazy. And some of those directions will surprise you. Sure makes you wonder about the Amanda Knox case.....and that is even brought up at the end of the book. I think this a great read.

posted by TomT4828 on April 21, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

Not recommended

I was excited to read this book, thinking it would be a gorgeous portrait of Italy as well as a murder mystery. Unfortunately, I found the writing stilted and the plot uneven, and I left with little understanding of the real Italy. Very disappointed.

posted by 2779376 on October 8, 2010

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  • Posted May 12, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Interesting Story

    Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I like books involving crimes and mysteries and this book incorporated both. I also found myself wanting to look up additional information regarding these serial killings in florence. The only issue I had with the book was that it was a little lengthy in some sections. Nonentheleess, I would recommend this book.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 7, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A provocative "Sleeper"

    read this, initially, due to Douglas Preston's name as co-author-- came to appreciate it at another level as the story behind the story, the cover-up, international intrigue, Italian politics, culture relative to Florence, press involvement, etc. unspiraled in an incredible fashion-- thought it would all be too much detail and I would forget key elements due to the sheer volume of information, but Preston and Spezi presented it artfully-- I found it to be a page-turner I was willing to lose sleep for in order to extend reading opportunities!-- thank you, authors: your expertise and integrity shine

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2008

    Would have given this 5 stars but . . .

    This is a great book because it is not the typical detached telling of a set of monstrous crimes. It is a true detective story, Spezi and Preston have their hands elbow deep in the action. My only complaint is editorial in nature . . . on page 25, the author states that 'the city was founded by Julius Caesar in AD 59'. Caesar was dead for over 100 years by that time. The true date of Florence's founding is 59 BC. Hopefully this glaring error will be changed in the paperback version. Otherwise, the book was outstanding!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2013

    From the first page, I HAD to keep reading. This was an absolute

    From the first page, I HAD to keep reading. This was an absolute page-turner and the contrast between the quiet, romantic country side and the demented crimes within was marvelously presented. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2012

    A great but scary read

    An eye opening expose' on the inherent corruption and incompetence that pervades the Italian justice system.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2012

    Great read, detailed but ended abruptly

    After living in Italy & understanding their culture i totally understand. Think book ended abruptly given the details. I still enjoyed. Would like a post script.

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  • Posted September 5, 2011

    Very Good Book

    We are currently living in Florence and it makes this story (true story) even more interesting. If you have never lived in Italy, you will find it hard to believe, but I can assure you all of the things that are in the book are true. Not just the story itself, but all of the little tidbits about the Italian culture. It is a fascinating story, and I agree with the authors, the guilty party is still out there in my opinion...

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  • Posted January 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    True Crimes...with a spin of unbelievable evil!!!!

    When I first got this book it stayed on my book shelf for a while. I was kind of skeptical and a little not sure. Lol. But two weeks ago I decided to give it a chance, and it was absolutely great!!!

    The narrative is broken up into two parts, the first half of the book centered around Spezi, and the general investigation, and the trials and suspects that well, weren't that credible. Spezi kept writing about the case, but the public and the press all seemed to want the more sensationalistic approach -- including rumours of a satanic cult being responsible etc.

    The second half of the book, told from Douglas Preston's point of view, detailing his meeting with Spezi, and with a notable aristocrat of Florence, and his own story. Unlike the first half, this one does have a bit of humour here and there to lighten things up, mostly centered around being a very naive American and trying to learn the language.

    The book is a dark look into the twisted maneuverings of Italian politics and how they tried to muzzle freedom of speech. It's a true crime book with a twist that makes it impossible to put down.

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  • Posted November 8, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Your Search for Thirll is Over

    "The Monster of Florence" by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi drages the imagination through the true story of lovers, revenge, and mystery. A serial killer is on the loose in the hills of Florence, Italy brutally murdering young couples in the midst of physical love. He leaves behind no evidence, resulting in thousands of accusations after each muder takes place. Some, hitting closer to home than the reader would believe. A major message revealed throughout the story is, reputation is everything. Police, investigators, and judges would lie and mold information to prove their theories right throughout the entire story. They didn't care who they uhrt in the process, the selfishness was astounding. I really liked the idea of the book and that the authors were actually characters in the book. Another aspect I loved was the glossary of names in the front of the book, I would have been lost without it. One aspect I disliked was the length, the story seemed a bit drawn out and repetitive. I would suggest this book to anyone who does not like non fiction. It seems like a novel and with a bit of dedication the book could be read quite fast becasue it is hard to put down. I greatly enjoyed it and am a tough critic of non fiction, so if your looking for a captivating piece of literature, look no furhter. "The Monster of Florence" is the book you've been searching for.

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  • Posted October 8, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Fascinating audio!

    This is an enthralling tale of an Italian Cold Case. Mario Spezi is the quintessential source on The Monster of Florence, and I believe these guys did excellent research. If you are looking for something to keep you gripped, and are into true crime, I recommend this audio.

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  • Posted June 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A whole new take on Italy

    After reading this book I now see Italy in a whole new light. Maybe the law enforcement agencies and judicial branches have changed, but I doubt it. The case in the news right now with the American college student makes me doubt any "facts" coming out of the Italian authorities. Doug and Mario have done more than document the frightful killings in Florence, they have shown that in a modern day, civilized, democratic country, small men can get wrapped up in their own ineptitudes and failings, prey on the idiosyncracies of a society and work hard at making fiction, fact. Now that I think about it, Italy isn't so different from the US. Highly recommended!

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  • Posted March 24, 2009

    The Monster of Florence

    Douglas Preston, bestselling author of The Book of the Dead and Relic, puts on his reporter hat for this real-life thriller. In The Monster of Florence, Preston moves his family to Italy in the start of the new millennium. On their arrival, he discovers that they olive grove near his 14th century farmhouse was once the scene of the most infamous double-murders in Italian history. The person that committed the heinous crime was never caught, and was eventually given the terrible nickname, The Monster of Florence. Intrigued by the story, Preston teams up with an Italian investigative journalist named Mario Spezi, to find out more about the serial killer. But their search for the man they believe committed the crimes takes a chilling turn when Preston and Spezi themselves become the targets of a police investigation. Preston has his phone tapped and Spezi is thrown into Italy's Capanne prison and accused of being the Monster of Florence himself.

    The story itself didn't read like a non-fiction novel, it felt like piece made entirely of fiction. It is a truly wonderful story and a good read. I found that I couldn't put it down once everything started going. My only complaint was an error in the history of Florence. On page 25, the author states that "the city was founded by Julius Caesar in AD 59". By that time, Caesar had been dead for over a century. But besides that, The Monster of Florence was wonderful. The book's themes include murder, the strength of vendettas and the depth of human nature. I definitely recommend reading this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2008

    An Unsolved Tale of One of Europe's Serial Killers

    Preston puts his investigative reporter hat and presents a totally different genre of work as he delves into the story of serial killings in Florence Italy. The book is based on extensive interviews with Mario Spezi, the reporter that covered the serial killings for about 30 years. What makes it interesting is that the case was never actually solved and various individuals were arrested and some even convicted, then let go. In fact Spezi himself was arrested during the time. People well versed in crime stories will cringe at the bungling that happens at the crime scenes and possible evidence is lost. It is amazing that this story went on for many years and there was virtually no coverage of it in the US. Preston does an excellent job of weaving the tale almost like a novel and keeping the reader engaged throughout. He also gives and nice portrait as to the culture of Florence and how it differs from the rest of Italy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2008

    Surreal, Disturbing and Fascinating

    I have spent a lot of time in Italy and love everything about it. This portrait of the Italian police and judicial system's handling of the serial killer known as the 'Monster of Florence' would be absurdly comical if it weren't so shockingly true. The two co-writers have woven together a brilliant composite of a pathetic and ruthless killer.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2008

    Italianissimo

    If you liked John Berendt's 'The city of fallen Angels' and Erik Larson's 'The Devil in the White City' you are on for a treat. The Monster of Florence is a non fiction collaboration between Douglass Preston and Mario Spezi and follows the a series of killings from 1968 and continuing through 1985: seven couples were brutally murdered in the secluded lovers' lanes located in the hills surrounding the city of Florence, Italy. Still unsolved to this day, the crimes captured the horrified attention and imagination of the Italian people, and consumed enormous resources--nearly one hundred thousand men were investigated and more than a dozen arrested during the course of various inquiries into the crimes. Per Douglas Preston's introduction, the investigation 'has been like a malignancy, spreading backward in time and outward in space, metastasizing into different cities and swelling into new investigations, with new judges, police, and prosecutors, more suspects, more arrests, and many more lives ruined.' Although the writing is not superb, if you are a lover of Florence, you will love the descriptions of the places and the machinations of the Italian dolce vita--where egos and avarice trump the real evidence--creating one of the stranger twists in a case replete with strange twists, where the focus of the ongoing police investigation falls on the reporters, thus becoming part of the very story they are covering. Spezi is subsequently arrested, and his collaborator, American crime novelist Preston, is harshly interrogated by the authorities. In a novel, the protagonists would have been able to clear their names by dramatically unmasking the real killer, unearthing a piece of key evidence at the last moment. Real life, however, proves to a bit more complicated, and certainly more bizarre.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2008

    A reviewer

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I found the story to be interesting and kept your interest the whole time. Having been to Florence a few times I enjoyed revisiting the city as I read the book. I enjoyed the writers opinions and observations of the citizens of this beautiful city. I really enjoyed any time the author used any conversations with Niccolo. I found this particular character fascinating. While the events about the crime were horrific I have to admit what happen to the two writer was even more frightening. In this day and age it is amazing that corruption of this degree can still take place unchecked. This book is well worth the read if you enjoy getting into the mind of people and not just look at the surface.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2008

    I love this book!

    I loved this book! It is the first time I have read a book by htis auther and I truely enjoyed it. I recommend this book to everyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2008

    Couldn't put it down

    I zoomed through this book in one day. True crime is more bizzare than fiction...over and over again, we learn.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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