The Monster of Florence

The Monster of Florence

by Douglas Preston, Mario Spezi (With)


$15.29 $16.99 Save 10% Current price is $15.29, Original price is $16.99. You Save 10%. View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Wednesday, February 20

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781455573820
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 04/23/2013
Pages: 348
Sales rank: 112,013
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About 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.

Place of Birth:

Cambridge, Massachusetts


B.A., Pomona College, 1978

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

The Monster of Florence 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 269 reviews.
TomT4828 More than 1 year ago
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.
suzyd More than 1 year ago
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.
KrissyKat More than 1 year ago
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.
Smiley-in-the-Sunshine More than 1 year ago
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
DayDreamer44 More than 1 year ago
prrple21 More than 1 year ago
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.
S_L_D More than 1 year ago
I found The Monster to be very interesting reading. The crimes, though horrible, are a small part of the book. The main story is about how the authorities handled it...and it is unbelievable. What a string of events. It shows a lot about human nature.
lovetoreadNJ More than 1 year ago
Great book! Hard to put down.
mandersj More than 1 year ago
When best-selling murder mystery writer Douglas Preston decided to move to Italy to write a book he'd been planning for years, he got far more than he bargained for. The true story of what happened to Preston, his family, and his newfound friend and colleague Italian journalist Mario Spezi is detailed in "The Monster of Florence: A True Story." Preston, his wife and his two small children move to a villa in beautiful Florence so Preston can begin to properly research a book he's had brewing in his head for a long time. He comes across the story of a murder that happened long ago on the land near where he is living, and his mind is suddenly tuned in to this story more than the one he was originally there to write. Italy has had a serial killer named The Monster of Florence, whose identity has never been revealed, whose case is still open. The Monster first struck in the 1960s and last struck in the 1980s, aiming his horrific hatred towards young couples having sex in parked vehicles at night. Apparently most Italians live at home with their parents until they are married, so having sex in parked cars is the Italian national pastime. The Monster kills the male first, then kills the female, drags her body away from the car to a more open locale, then mutilates her body, taking with him a trophy from each female victim­. There is no mistaking his signature. The Italian police, through the years, arrested and imprisoned numerous suspects. The investigation is still ongoing, although the Monster has not been active in a long time. Preston and Spezi offer their opinion on who the real Monster is. Spezi caught the story when the first murder occurred and has covered it for decades, pretty much consuming his life. Spezi spins a tale of the corrupt police system in Italy, the unfair trials, how the police don't seem to care who is really the guilty party, and how they seem to cover up and ignore evidence that points to the real killer. When the police get word that Spezi and Preston are writing a book about the Monster and the investigation into the case, they target both writers to the full extent of Italian law. Spezi suffers much more than Preston, who is allowed to leave the country, but forbidden to ever return. This story is mired down in too many details of a very confusing investigation. The ending is more interesting because it talks about the cover-up and consequences of the writers' actions, but it doesn't make up for the beginning where all the dozens of suspects' lives are explained in too many details to keep track of. This is definitely not a light read, and because there is no resolution to the story, nor in real life, not necessarily worth the time it takes to muddle through.
wdwilson3 on LibraryThing 7 months ago
The Monster of Florence is a true crime story, the story of a serial killer who murdered 14 young lovers in the area around Florence and ritually mutilated the female victims. It is just as much the story of the Italian justice system, a system plagued by incompetence and corruption and where ego is more important than evidence. Douglas Preston and his Italian journalist friend Mario Spezi become enmeshed in the cogs of this system when there investigations lead to a culprit already ¿cleared¿ from consideration by the police.The tale is considerably diminished by the fact that the suspected Monster is not particularly clever and because many of the details of the murders are unknown. Incompetent police work has more to do with the killer being at large than anything else. While the narrative is occasionally interesting, this is not the story of the successful tracking down of a master criminal. Preston¿s writing style is adequate, though not particularly vivid. Recommended to ¿true crime¿ buffs only.
sharlene_w on LibraryThing 7 months ago
The first half, dealing with the serial killings that took place for roughly twenty years from the mid 60s to the mid 80s, was relatively interesting. The second part covering the investigation--the arrests of various suspects, the examination of the Italian judicial system--was a real snoozer. Cap it off with no resolution to who the true killer is and you have a book I wouldn't recommend to anyone.
bookworm12 on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Yay for excellent nonfiction! When an American author moves to Italy with his family, he has no idea what he¿s in for. He quickly discovers the story of the Monster of Florence, a serial killer who murdered 14 people over the course of two decades and was never caught. He and the Italian journalist Mario Spezi research the case and find themselves caught up in the midst of it. The first half of the book gives the history of the murders and brings the reader up-to-date with the ongoing police case. The second half gives Preston and Spezi¿s personal experience with the police and the complicated Italian judicial system. It¿s real life, so some people might not be satisfied with the ending. Unfortunate, things are always resolved like we would like them to be. I¿ve heard it compared to The Devil in the White City and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. I don¿t know what it is about that style of book that I enjoy so much, but I love them. I¿m not a fan of true crime books, but these fall in a different category, they are creative nonfiction, written like a novel almost, but using only the facts. I would say this one is closer to Devil than Midnight, but all three are wonderfully written and read like fiction.
Bookmarque on LibraryThing 7 months ago
If it weren't true, it would be funny. The Italian system of "justice" is that absurd and backward. To think I always thought of the Italians as learned, rational and civilized. Little did I know. I can hardly believe any cop would be so asinine as the ones portrayed in this book. Anytime I think the US system of justice is getting out of hand, or the press have too much leeway, I'll remember this book.
madamepince on LibraryThing 7 months ago
This is the second book I've read recently that is nonfiction, details recent crimes and does't provide an true conclusion. Is this some trend in publishing? If so, I hope dies out soon; it's truly unsatisfying to reach the end of the book and not have a real ending. I realize that life doesn't have the nicely tied up endings of fiction, but a conclusion that amounts to "that's as much as we know now," seems to me to be a reason for serious editing and reconsideration of the focus of the book.
rfewell on LibraryThing 7 months ago
I read about 2/3 of this... it was pretentious.
BookMason on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Not exactly want I expected from the title, but a very interesting look at the Italian legal system that I knew nothing about. Really looks more at how power and politics play a role in the justice system of Italy.The latter part of the story about Spezi's fight against the judicary and his jailing and trial is actually more interestinged than the serial killings which is what drew me to the book in the first place.Fascinating story, though it moves much to slowly to be highly recommended.
PirateJenny on LibraryThing 7 months ago
America isn't the only place with serial killers. But for some reason, the story of the Monster of Florence didn't make it over here until a U.S. writer ended up involved. I'd heard about this story a year or two ago when I saw it on Dateline. Honestly, the judicial system there makes ours look stellar.Couples on what we would consider lovers' lanes are murdered. The men are shot, the women mutilated. This goes on for decades with no clue as to who the culprit is. Journalist Mario Spezi gets the first case to report on by accident and continues to write about the case with every attack. He's considered an expert. Douglas Preston and his family move temporarily to Florence so he can research a novel. When he meets with Spezi in the course of that research, he discovers that the home he's rented is basically on the site of one of the murders. Preston becomes as obsessed with the case as Spezi, the two of them discovering evidence that disputes what the police have. When a new inspector takes over the case, both Spezi and Preston are arrested. (Not a spoiler--you find this out right away.) An excellent book and a scary one as well.
Tara714 on LibraryThing 7 months ago
This was a very interesting read. We really only get 1 side of the story, but I'm really curious about what the otherside side said and if I would actually believe them. If your interested in true crime then definitly check this book out. It's about a serial killer in the hills of Florence, Italy. The crimes he committed and how they police conducted their investigation. What's really intersting about it is how I perceive American investigations to be and how they described the Italian investigation.
almdennis on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Douglas Preston is one of my favorite authors. His usual genre is thrillers with a hint of the paranormal in them. This, on the other hand, is a true crime book. It is about a series of gruesome murders that occurred in the 1970s and 1980s in the Tuscany countryside in Italy. The murderer or murderers were never caught, in large part due to the incredible ineptness of the local authorities, but the investigation continues, even today. This is also a story about the writing of the book. Mr. Spezi was a newspaper reporter who covered the crimes and became somewhat of an expert...a montrologist. As Spezi and Preston researched the book, their theories conflicted with the official investigation to the point where the authors themselves came under suspicion. Spezi spent some time in prison before he was finally cleared; Preston was questioned and left Italy still under investigation. The whole book was rather strange. I would give it about 3 stars (out of 5) and hope Doug Preston goes back to writing fiction.
Asata on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Interesting read--I was astounded by some of the quirks of Florentine life. Selling the makeout spots, for instance! They made their case, I believe it was who they build a case for. Too bad the police aren't interested...
drneutron on LibraryThing 7 months ago
The Monster of Florence is really two stories. The first tells about a series of murders of young couples in the countryside near Florence, Italy, in 1974 and then in the early 80's. The killer was dubbed the Monster of Florence, and was never caught due to among other things, a really bad job of investigation by the Italian police. In fact, after losing the trial of their first set of suspects, prosecutors settled on a conspiracy by a Satanic cult. With little evidence and a lot of speculation, a series of trials were carried out that resulted in - again - no convictions.The second story is that of the authors. In the process of investigating the case for a book published in Italy, Preston and Spezi offended a powerful prosecutor and were dragged into the case. In fact, Spezi was eventually arrested as the mastermind of the Satanic cult. After international involvement, he was eventually cleared.The book was first a very good telling of a fascinating crime story, then it became documentation of outrageous power plays by the politically motivated. An excellent read, but it just may get your blood boiling!
joannecatherine on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Very exciting, quick read of a serial killer in lovely Florence. Could not put it down. Was horrified to learn that the two authors of the book were actually, at one time, accused of being the murderer and the accomplice.
nemoman on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Preston moves to Florence with a plot for a murder mystery. He contacts Spezi, a writer and expert, inter alia, on Italian police procedures, for information to use in his novel. He then gets caught up in Spezi's obsession with a real life serial murder mystery - the monster of Florence. This nonfiction book about their attempt to solve the murders reads like a first rate novel. Along the way Spezi himself is arrested as a suspect and Preston is indicted for obstruction of justice, The book chronicles considerable corruption and incompetence at the local prosecutorial level of several Italian cities, Preston and Spezi come up with a credible suspect for the murders; however the murders remain unsolved,
CasualFriday on LibraryThing 7 months ago
What if Under the Tuscan Sun had been written by Kafka? You would have The Monster of Florence, the true story of a decades-long investigation into a rash of Ripper-like murders in the vicinity of Florence. The appeal is not so much the usual true-crime recipe of forensics, psychological suspense and morbid fascination. It's more of a travelogue from hell - a portrayal of Italy and the Italians that you won't find in Fodor's. The portrayal of the Italian "justice" system is horrifying, albeit sometimes horrifyingly funny. With the caveat that Preston has a personal ax to grind against the system, I guess it's all true. And after a slow start, gripping as hell.
mojomomma on LibraryThing 7 months ago
It's hard to believe that this is a true, ongoing story. An American writer and an Italian journalist team up to begin researching the Monster of Florence, a serial killer who preyed on young couples parking in the hills around Florence, Italy. The book exposes the convoluted Italian judicial system who many years after the killings stop even accuse the writing pair of the crime. The case is still unsolved.