The Monster of Florence

The Monster of Florence

by Mario Spezi
     
 
In the tradition of John Berendt's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City, Douglas Preston weaves a captivating account of crime and punishment in the lush hills of Florence,

Overview

In the tradition of John Berendt's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City, Douglas Preston weaves a captivating account of crime and punishment in the lush hills of Florence, Italy.





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 the 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 became 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.


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."
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."
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)

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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."
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."
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
TIME Magazine
"Preston's account of the crimes is lucid and mesmerizing."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780446581271
Publisher:
Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
06/25/2009
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
368
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.20(d)

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Meet the Author

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.

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