Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Book Review: The Monster of Florence, by Douglas Preston with Mario Spezi

Ever since I stopped taking the train into work, I've had a lot of trouble maintaining my reading habits. I still read, almost every day-but not nearly as much as when I had 90 minutes a day of free reading time.

To supplement this, I've started picking up audio books and listening to more podcasts. My latest audiobook was The Monster of Florence - a fascinating true crime novel about Italy's 'Jack the Ripper'-style serial killer.

The book is pretty explicit about the murders-they're murders, of course. But the murders are the least interesting thing about it. The fascinating part is the investigation and all of the bizarre suspects and the insane twists that the investigation would wind up taking.

The murders occurred from 1968-1985 or so, and the officials actually even convicted several people of the crimes. The author makes an incredible case that they got the entire thing wrong and the actual killer roams free. They show how the police got onto the wrong trail fairly early on and just started ignoring evidence that contradicted their story.

Eventually the FBI did a profile on the serial killer for Italy, and Italy buried it because it didn't remotely match the profile of their primary suspect. Ultimately the author and his Italian counterpart would wind up becoming a part of the story when the police strike back at them for starting to expose the ridiculous loopholes in their case.

It's an incredible story, even though it's pretty frustrating to see the obvious murderer completely evade the slightest bit of police interest. If you are interested in it, I strongly recommend picking up the audiobook, which has an excellent vocal artist who reads it and does an excellent job on the various accents throughout. I absolutely can't imagine reading this book as opposed to listening to the CDs.

And be forewarned: there is a small amount of language in the book and the murders are very disturbing, and not in an 'entertaining' way the way modern TV would have you believe. This is true crime, so these poor people really did experience these terrible crimes. Fortunately there's a Higher Power to dole out justice in the end.


Hillary said...

This is going on my library list immediately.

Kristen said...

Yeah, this sounds good. I just started listening to A Tale of Two Cities. It's been my favorite book since reading it many years ago, but I decided I ought to 'read' it again to make sure it still is. The narrator is also excellent.
I'll look into your suggestion.

Barbara said...

I read this page turner several years ago and enjoyed it immensely. It also illustrates beautifully why Amanda Knox's unhappy fate in the hands of Italian investigators, police and judges should not have been a surprise.