BN.com Gift Guide

The Monster of Florence

( 254 )

Overview

In 2000, Douglas Preston and his family moved to Florence, Italy, fulfilling a long-held dream. They put their children in Italian schools and settled into a 14th century farmhouse in the green hills of Florence, where they devoted themselves to living la dolce vita while Preston wrote his best-selling suspense novels. All that changes when he discovers that the lovely olive grove in front of their house had been the scene of the most infamous double-murders in Italian history, committed by a serial killer known ...
See more details below
Paperback
$12.22
BN.com price
(Save 18%)$14.99 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (43) from $1.99   
  • New (9) from $8.31   
  • Used (34) from $1.99   
The Monster of Florence

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$9.99
BN.com price

Overview

In 2000, Douglas Preston and his family moved to Florence, Italy, fulfilling a long-held dream. They put their children in Italian schools and settled into a 14th century farmhouse in the green hills of Florence, where they devoted themselves to living la dolce vita while Preston wrote his best-selling suspense novels. All that changes when he discovers that the lovely olive grove in front of their house had been the scene of the most infamous double-murders in Italian history, committed by a serial killer known only as the Monster of Florence. Preston, intrigued, joins up with the crack Italian investigative journalist Mario Spezi to solve the case. THE MONSTER OF FLORENCE tells the true story of their search for--and identification of--a likely suspect, and their chilling interview with that man. And then, in a strange twist of fate, Preston and Spezi themselves become targets of the police investigation into the murders. Preston has his phone tapped and is interrogated by the police, accused of perjury, planting false evidence and being an accessory to murder--and told to leave the country. Spezi fares worse: he is thrown into Italy's grim Capanne prison, accused of being the Monster of Florence himself. THE MONSTER OF FLORENCE, which reads like one of Preston's thrillers, tells a remarkable and harrowing story involving murder, mutilation, suicide, carnival trials, voyeurism, princes and palaces, body parts sent by post, séances, devil worship and Satanic sects, poisonings and exhumations, Florentine high fashion houses and drunken peasants--and at the center of it, Preston and Spezi, caught in the crossfire of a bizarre prosecutorial vendetta.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

USA Today
"Remarkable true-crime story...passionately describes the investigations gone wrong....Preston knows how to load his storytelling with intriguing evidence and damning details. His feverish style keeps the reader turning with the hope of uncovering the killer's identity."
Time Magazine
"Preston's account of the crimes is lucid and mesmerizing.
Dallas Morning News
"As taut and tense as any of the author's bestselling thrillers...fascinating, stomach-churning...nerve-tingling action and vivid writing...The Monster of Florence is a gripping tale, filled with shocking crimes, boldly drawn characters, and the careening suspense of the ultimate whodunit."
Washington Post
"The co-authors expertly and entertainingly guide the reader though an epic, colorful cast of characters and the stranger-than-fiction machinations of a Byzantine Italian judicial system."
TIME Magazine
"Preston's account of the crimes is lucid and mesmerizing."
Publishers Weekly

In an interview on the final disc, Preston describes his and Spezi's journalistic search for the still-at-large infamous serial killer of the title as "the dark side of Under the Tuscan Sun." It's that and more: a chilling personal account of their investigation and how the authors incurred the wrath of bungling members of the Italian judiciary and were themselves accused of the crimes. Told from Preston's point of view, Dennis Boutsikaris's crisp, intelligent vocal rendition reflects the various stages of the author's life in Italy: his delight in arriving with wife and young son at a lovely villa in Florence, his surprise in hearing that a grisly double murder was committed in the villa's olive grove, his fascination with Spezi's stories of The Monster, and eventually his astonishment, frustration, anger and fear upon discovering that he and Spezi are suspects in the murders. Boutsikaris is particularly effective in giving voice to the author's rueful and yet wistful final thoughts. A Grand Central hardcover (Reviews, Apr. 7). (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

In 2000, Preston, the best-selling coauthor of thrillers with Lincoln Child (e.g., The Relic) moved to Florence, Italy, to research a new mystery and fell headlong into the case of the Monster of Florence. Between 1968 and 1985, seven couples had been murdered in their cars in secluded lovers' lanes in and around Florence. (The murders took place near Preston's 14th-century farmhouse.) Intrigued, Preston teamed up with Italian journalist and "Monsterologist" Spezi to write an article-and became part of the story. The investigation of these serial murders had taken on a surreal edge, with wild conspiracy theories involving satanic cults being seriously considered by desperate investigators. At one point, Spezi himself was accused of the murders, while Preston was accused of planting evidence and even suspected of being an American spy. Eventually, the authors came to believe they knew the identity of the Monster, but nothing has been proven. Truth is truly stranger than fiction, as lives are destroyed, reputations are ruined, and evidence is manufactured to fit the suspect-of-the-month. Preston fans and true-crime fans are sure to be riveted. Recommended for public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ2/15/08.]
—Deirdre Bray Root

Kirkus Reviews
Meticulous account of the collaboration between American thriller author Preston (Blasphemy, 2008, etc.) and Italian journalist Spezi to plumb a long-unsolved series of murders. Between 1974 and 1985, seven couples were killed while having sex in parked cars in the hills around Florence, Preston learned shortly after he moved to Italy in August 2000. One of those double homicides occurred in an olive grove next to the stone farmhouse he had just moved into with his family. Preston's informant was Spezi, who had covered the serial killings and dubbed their perpetrator "the Monster of Florence." Italian authorities had charged various men with one or more of the murders. Some had been brought to trial; one had been convicted but acquitted on appeal. Looking back to a seemingly unrelated killing in 1968, Spezi believed he had determined the identity of the actual killer, and Preston bought his theory. The pair began to write a book outlining their ideas, and the Italian authorities retaliated by harassing them. In February 2006, Preston was interrogated by a police captain who accused him and Spezi of planting false evidence, then essentially told the American to get out of Italy and not come back. Spezi was arrested on April 7, 12 days before Dolci Colline di Sangue was slated to be published, accused not only of obstructing justice but of somehow being involved in the Monster of Florence murders. Three weeks later, a judicial tribunal exonerated him of all charges and he was released. The police detective and prosecutor responsible for Preston's interrogation and Spezi's arrest, as well as mishandling the serial-killing investigation, are awaiting trial on charges of abuse of office. Withso many characters and so many theories about the case, the book is sometimes difficult to follow, and Preston's flat prose does little to help. He is a likable narrator, however, and his commitment to untrammeled press freedom is inspiring. A cautionary saga about how the criminal-justice system can spin out of control.
USA TODAY
"Remarkable true-crime story...passionately describes the investigations gone wrong....Preston knows how to load his storytelling with intriguing evidence and damning details. His feverish style keeps the reader turning with the hope of uncovering the killer's identity."
DALLAS MORNING NEWS
"As taut and tense as any of the author's bestselling thrillers...fascinating, stomach-churning...nerve-tingling action and vivid writing...The Monster of Florence is a gripping tale, filled with shocking crimes, boldly drawn characters, and the careening suspense of the ultimate whodunit."
From the Publisher
"In an interview on the final disc, Preston describes his and Spezi's journalistic search for the still-at-large infamous serial killer of the title as "the dark side of Under the Tuscan Sun." It's that and more: a chilling personal account of their investigation and how the authors incurred the wrath of bungling members of the Italian judiciary and were themselves accused of the crimes. Told from Preston's point of view, Dennis Boutsikaris's crisp, intelligent vocal rendition reflects the various stages of the author's life in Italy: his delight in arriving with wife and young son at a lovely villa in Florence, his surprise in hearing that a grisly double murder was committed in the villa's olive grove, his fascination with Spezi's stories of The Monster, and eventually his astonishment, frustration, anger and fear upon discovering that he and Spezi are suspects in the murders. Boutsikaris is particularly effective in giving voice to the author's rueful and yet wistful final thoughts."—Publishers Weekly
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781455573820
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 4/23/2013
  • Pages: 348
  • Sales rank: 114,989
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Douglas Preston

DOUGLAS PRESTON worked as a writer and editor for the American Museum of Natural History and taught writing at Princeton University. He has written for The New Yorker, Natural History, National Geographic, Harper's, Smithsonian, and The Atlantic. The author of several acclaimed nonfiction books, Preston is also the co-author with Lincoln Child of the bestselling series of novels featuring FBI agent Pendergast.

MARIO SPEZI, a highly decorated journalist, has covered many of the most important criminal cases in Italy, including those involving terrorism and the Mafia, and has been investigating the Monster of Florence case since its beginning. He has also published both fiction and nonfiction books in Italy and several other countries.

.

Biography

Douglas Preston was born in 1956 in Cambridge, MA, was raised in nearby Wellesley (where, by his own admission, he and his brothers were the scourge of the neighborhood!), and graduated from Pomona College in California with a degree in English literature.

Preston's first job was as a writer for the American Museum of Natural History in New York -- an eight year stint that led to the publication of his first book, Dinosaurs in the Attic and introduced him to his future writing partner, Lincoln Child, then working as an editor at St. Martin's Press. The two men bonded, as they worked closely together on the book. As the project neared completion, Preston treated Child to a private midnight tour of the museum, an excursion that proved fateful. As Preston tells it, "...in the darkened Hall of Late Dinosaurs, under a looming T. Rex, Child turned to [me] and said: 'This would make the perfect setting for a thriller!'" Their first collaborative effort, Relic, would not be published until 1995, by which time Preston had picked up stakes and moved to Santa Fe to pursue a full-time writing career.

In addition to writing novels (The Codex, Tyrannosaur Canyon) and nonfiction books on the American Southwest (Cities of Gold, Ribbons of Time), Preston has collaborated with Lincoln Child on several post-Relic thrillers. While not strictly a series, the books share characters and events, and the stories all take place in the same universe. The authors refer to this phenomenon as "The Preston-Child Pangea."

Preston divides his time between New Mexico and Maine, while Child lives in New Jersey -- a situation that necessitates a lot of long-distance communication. But their partnership (facilitated by phone, fax, and email) is remarkably productive and thoroughly egalitarian: They shape their plots through a series of discussions; Child sends an outline of a set of chapters; Preston writes the first draft of those chapters, which is subsequently rewritten by Child; and in this way the novel is edited back and forth until both authors are happy. They attribute the relatively seamless surface of their books to the fact that "[a]ll four hands have found their way into practically every sentence, at one time or another."

In between, Preston remains busy. He is a regular contributor to magazines like National Geographic, The New Yorker, Natural History, Smithsonian, Harper's, and Travel & Leisure, and he continues with varied solo literary projects. Which is not to say his partnership with Lincoln Child is over. Fans of the bestselling Preston-Child thrillers can be assured there are bigger and better adventures to come.

Good To Know

Douglas Preston counts among his ancestors the poet Emily Dickinson, the newspaperman Horace Greeley, and the infamous murderer and opium addict Amasa Greenough.

His brother is Richard Preston, the bestselling author of The Hot Zone, The Cobra Event, The Wild Trees, and other novels and nonfiction narratives.

Preston is an expert horseman and a member of the Long Riders Guild.

He is also a National Geographic Society Fellow, has traveled extensively around the world, and contributes archaeological articles to many magazines.

In our interview, Preston shared some fun and fascinating personal anecdotes.

"My first job was washing dishes in the basement of a nursing home for $2.10 an hour, and I learned as much about the value of hard work there as I ever did later."

"I need to write in a small room -- the smaller the better. I can't write in a big room where someone might sneak up behind my back."

"My hobbies are mountain biking, horseback riding and packing, canoeing and kayaking, hiking, camping, cooking, and skiing."

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 254 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(87)

4 Star

(81)

3 Star

(58)

2 Star

(20)

1 Star

(8)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 254 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    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 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.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • 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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • 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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 6, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Had to get this book

    I saw someone reading this book for two days poolside on vacation and she could not put it down. After she finished it on the second day, I asked her about it and she recommeded it. I had seen the cover and assumed that it was a novel. The is the most amazing non-fiction book I have read in a long time. The story starts out with elements that bring to mind the David Berkowitz case of the 70's. This serial killer
    strikes in the Tuscan countryside, so the setting is beautiful, contrasted with the violence of the crimes. The story is spellbinding.
    There are so many twists and turns and the fact that both authors become involved with the investigation, adds to the intrigue. I think the authors have done an incredible job both researching and writing this book. I will be recommending it to everyone. One look at the cover also intrigues you. I think the cover is probably what hooked me
    originally as I watched someone devour the book in two days.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2010

    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.

    2 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 16, 2010

    amazing!!

    INCREDIBLE BOOK!! ONE OF THE BEST IVE READ!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 24, 2011

    HORRIBLY WRITTEN BOOK

    I can't believe I paid for this trashy book. It's written by an author who is supposedly well known and has been a good seller? You would never know it by the way it was written. DON'T WASTE YOUR TIME. Read the internet version by real journalists. MARIO SPEZI wrote most of this book and it shows - his English is nil and he keeps repeating the same ideas and the same crap over and over in each chapter.

    Reading this book - I wanted the Monster to go after him - and guess what (spoiler alert) he did!

    1 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 4, 2010

    The Monster of Florence

    Great book! Hard to put down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Worth the read!

    This was a great book. I didn't even know that there was a Monster of Florence. It was great fun to speculate who could have done it. I wish that I had the time and money to go and investigate it a bit myself!

    The book was well written and researched. Preston went to one of the greatest sources of the story and was right to include him; Spezi was awesome.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • 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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2008

    Disappointing Read

    I thought this book was going to be a great read, but was disappointed and forced myself to finish it about 3/4 f the way through it. It starts strong and pulls you in and then drags on and on. Preston acts a bit like he's got a man- crush on another author with the number of times this well known American author is mentioned in the book. Bottom line... Get it from the library... don't buy it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2014

    Thiller

    I really enjoyed this book and could not put it down it is based off a true story MUST READ

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2014

    I just could not get into this book. The basic plot is decent, b

    I just could not get into this book. The basic plot is decent, but it just drags on and on. I had to force myself to finish. I wouldn't even categorize it as true crime really. 

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2013

    Good book and interesting

    Not what I thought it would be. It was good, but hard to get into.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • 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. 

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 19, 2013

    A truly fantastic read! The culture and life of Italy only make

    A truly fantastic read! The culture and life of Italy only make this real story of the never-caught serial killer "stalking the Florentine hills." This case remains a mystery to this day, the killer never being brought to justice. The entire book was fascinating, from beginning to end! What a unique way to bring this infamous case to light in the US.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2013

    I had never heard of the Monster of Florence before, and I was h

    I had never heard of the Monster of Florence before, and I was hoping for a comprehensive true crime story. Although there was a fairly good account of the actual events, I have found that there was much that was left out, and a great deal of the book was devoted to the personal involvement of the authors and a devotion to "journalistic privilege" that was distracting from the main story. Despite what appears to be evidence of less-than-competent police investigation and oddities of the Italian judicial system, the authors' own actions seem to be a big part of the problem. Although they did outline a plausible theory of the identity of the Monster, they made no attempt to explain why the murders ended with the arrest of the "wrong" suspect. Their "Monster" remained alive and apparently at liberty to kill again, but he did not. Meanwhile, the book rambles on, providing a convenient opportunity for self-justification and/or self-promotion. It felt twice as long as it needed to be, and it felt incomplete on several levels.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2013

    Very disappointing

    The story of the killer is fascinating, however I think I would have preferred a book by Spezi alone. To begin with, there is not a chapter in the book that doesn't mention smoking, smokers or the evils of smoking. Most chapters have at least a paragraph on the types & brands of cigarettes, pipes & cigars, detailed lists of smokers at meetings & how they hold the evil object in their mouths. It even includes a vignette about teachers who smoked in front of his son, apparently necessitating that the child be moved to a school run by non-smoking nuns. Anti-smoking complaints notwithstanding, Preston is awfully long-winded (pun intended).

    The details of the investigation & Spezi's research are fascinating. Specifics about the horrific nature of the killings are phrased to allow the reader important information without being overly sensational. The inadequate approach of the Italian authorities is, IMO, too detailed, but illuminating. Two of the worst offenders went on to prosecute Amanda Knox with the same shoddy techniques.

    Fully half the book is devoted to the travails of Preston who comes under investigation by the Italian authorities because of his & Spezi's criticisms of their methods & conclusions. The murder suspect Spezi focuses on gets less attention in Preston's missive than the smokers, or Florentine history. This is the greatest disappointment for me, although I appreciate many of the assorted facts tossed in as background for foreign readers unfamiliar with Italy.

    I'm rating the book as average, since it contains important information about the killings & does offer tremendous insight into Spezi's efforts, intelligence & subsequent abuse by the Italian authorities. I'm not a fan of Preston's style of story-telling, however this book will fit the bill if you're interested in true crime & the Monster of Florence.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2012

    Electrifying read!

    I always trust Douglas Preston for his fictional murder mysteries - so, it was not a big leap for me to try this book. I was not disappointed! Very intriguing story, especially with the insight into the Italian legal system and cultural differences. Definitely a good read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • 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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 254 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)