The Monster 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 See more details below
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The Monster of Florence

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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.


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  • Douglas J. Preston
    Douglas J. Preston  

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)

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."
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."
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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446581271
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 6/25/2009
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 1,373,928
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.20 (d)

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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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 31 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 20, 2010

    Insight into Italian culture

    I thought the contrast with the romanticized Italian countryside, Tuscany, wine culture, art, and so on that we associate with Italy was marked in the true story of Italian murder and mystery. I was hooked and involved immediately and finished the book swiftly. The afterword about the Amanda Knox case is fascinating and timely. I hope international attention forces a look at the Italian version of justice. Power corrupts...

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Incredible!

    Preston and Spezi take the reader deep into the case of an old Italian murder mystery. An incredible first hand account of Spezi's involvement in the case, draws the reader to be more and more interested with each and every page. Through the detailed crime scenes, to the intriguing investigations, Spezi is able to draw a beautiful picture in your head. This book is filled with shocking suspects and unbelievable verdicts.The Monster of Florence is guaranteed to keep you wanting more.
    10 out of 10.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 4, 2010

    The Title captured my interest as did the photograph on the cover

    I purchased this book for my husband, an retired policeman, who enjoys good literature. I read it before giving it and truly enjoyed the mystery. I especially enjoyed the setting since I lived in that very area of Tuscany on a painting trip. The inefficacies of the justice system brought memories of my brief encounter with the law when my wallet was stolen...archaic and inefficient! The novel is very well written and I will seek out more books by the same author. Really enjoyed the investigative and personal relationships of Mario Spezi and Douglas Preston.

    Since the names in this novel are so similar to the unfamiliar reader, a listing of the characters and their connection to each other would be helpful.

    My friend also read the book before my giving it to my husband. She agrees with my comments. My husband enjoyed the book, especially the well-written text but found all the similar names difficult to keep in check. All in all, it was a very good book which many of us enjoyed. It is already on my friends' "borrowing list".

    Lorraine Boucher

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Required Reading!

    Wonderfully researched, captivating, and enlightening. The authors are not only experts on the case, [the twisted] Italian judiciary practice, and the human psyche in general, but they are also fantastic writers. It will be interesting to see how the Monster of Florence story, the Sardinian Trial, and the Meredith Kercher case will all be played out once this book becomes read world-wide. This book she be a required reading!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 31, 2012

    Great Book!

    Picked this up on the clearance table at B & N cuz I am going to Tuscany and Umbria in June and also enjoy reading non-fiction books written by journalists. This is a fascinating crime story and an even more interesting look at the criminal justice system in Italy. Moreover, it truly highlights certain cultural and national traits of Italy and Italians. After reading it, I realized why Amanda Knox was locked up for four years: the Public Prosecutor is a power-hungry loony-toons! I highly recommend this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2009

    enlightening and disturbing

    A good read; who would have thought a "modern" country could have such a dysfunctional judicial system. Very disturbing, especially in light of yet another terribly unfair trial conducted against a young American woman. Sadly, this discourages travel to this beautiful country.

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  • Posted October 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The Monster Was Okay

    This book was just okay. It was a bit gross and it gave me some nightmares. It was disarming to know that "saving face" meant framing people for crimes that they didn't commit. I loved the pharse "picnicking friends."

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 3, 2009

    A real life crime story ... truth stranger than fiction.

    If you like crime stories with lots of twists and turns, good guys and bad guys not always easy to determine, good cops and bad cops, and lots of human nature, this is a good read. A real life story that is much better than your average crime story. If you like to mine the depths of good and evil, this is also a good reason to read the book. Well written.

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  • Posted September 12, 2009

    The Monster of Florence

    This is non-fiction, written by the two journalist whose interest was captured by a series of murders near Florence, Italy--one an American who chose to move to Italy, and one an Italian journalist. The picture painted of the Italian justice system, the inefficiencies and corruption are pretty sad. Both journalists ended up with legal problems themselves as a result of their efforts to find the real murderer, but the pertpetrator was never found, although suspicions linger who that might be. It is a well written, interesting true crime novel that will send chills up your spine. A very interesting snapshot, too, of how life is in another country. Makes me very glad to be an American citizen--our system has problems, but miniscule compared to many other places.

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