Rated Reads

The Monster of Florence

by Douglas Preston

Rated: Moderate

by Douglas Preston with Mario Spezi

When Douglas Preston moved to Italy to work on a new novel, little did he know that his attention would soon be diverted to a different project: that of researching all about the Monster of Florence, a serial killer who struck somewhere between six and eight couples parked in cars in the Italian countryside in the 1980s and possibly before. When he found out that some of the killings happened close to where he was living, he got drawn into the story — and he became obsessed with finding the truth.

For anyone who reads The Monster of Florence, it will seem clear that the truth was something not being sought by the police. Preston and his co-author and longtime Monster expert Mario Spezi were often surprised and befuddled by the missteps and shortsightedness of the officials. Unfortunately, as they chronicle in the book, frustration turned out to be the least of their concerns; after years of being a journalist researching the case of the Monster, Spezi was actually accused of trying to hamper the investigation and thrown in prison.

Preston and Spezi detail the killings: when and where they occurred and what exactly happened. Then they explain the theories and investigations pursued by the police, including many of the wilder theories that were put forth over the years. They also explain who they believe is the Monster of Florence and for what reasons. The book is largely compelling and sometimes laughable in the way the case was mishandled over its long history. It makes for fascinating reading.

Rated: Moderate, for four uses of strong language, other uses of mild and moderate language, some crude sexual references and some disturbing images related to the killings.

— Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim

Cathy Carmode Lim has been reviewing books for newspapers for more than 20 years, two of which she was a book page editor. She founded Rated Reads in January 2008.

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  • The Monster of Florence
  • by Douglas Preston
  • Rated: Moderate
  • Genre: Nonfiction
  • Reviewer: