Saturday, January 29, 2011
The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston - Guest Review by Holly
Book: The Monster of Florence
Author: Douglas Preston
Recommended To: Non-Fiction Fans, True Crime Fans.
This is an amazing account of a serial killer roaming the hills of Florence and the botched investigation into the murders. Starting in the late 1960s, young Italian couples were being murdered after parking their cars in secluded places to have sex. No one knew when or why the murderer would strike, only that the man would be shot immediately with a .22 caliber pistol and the woman would be dragged out of the car, shot, and mutilated to provide the killer with a "trophy." (Thomas Harris based the character Hannibal Lecter loosely on these murders.)
This book follows the career of Mario Spezi, a journalist, who reported on the murders and covered the subsequent investigations and trials in Florence and Douglas Preston, an American author, who moves his family Italy and unknowingly rents a house near one of the murder scenes. Preston meets Spezi and quickly becomes fascinated with the story. They decide to start their own investigation using the extensive files Spezi kept through the course of his career and come to their own conclusion about the identity of the murderer. Unfortunately for them, their theory contradicts the official version of events, and puts both Preston and Spezi in danger. Preston is questioned as an accessory to murder, and Spezi is accused of being the Monster himself!
This book gets an A-. It includes a lot of background information on the Italian criminal justice system; how it's organized, the functions of the polizei, the carabineri, prosecutors, judges and courts, which is very helpful to the reader. It really makes you appreciate the rights that Americans have in our courts, even though our own system is imperfect. The only thing I didn't love about this book is that I think the authors are a little too close to the subject. I understand that they wanted to tell the story of what they went through, but I think it may have benefited from an outsider's voice telling their tale.
The investigation into the Monster killings remains open to this day and dozens of people have been arrested, tried, convicted and released for these crimes, including the authors. This investigation is truly bizarre and very enjoyable to read about!