Monster of Florence Continues to Intrigue

Somehow  I missed it. It was a random comment on an old blog of mine that pertained to my brief review of The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston. The comment was from a reader who was outraged by the participation of one of the investigators from The Monster of Florence in the ongoing Italian trial involving Amanda Knox. She informed me of a segment titled American Girl, American Nightmare on 48 hours (CBS News) which details the case as well as invites input from Mr. Preston.

For those of you who don’t know, Amanda Knox is the young American woman who is now serving time in an Italian prison for the murder of her roommate Meredith Kercher. Though I haven’t followed the case closely, the blog comment addressed the involvement of investigator Giuliano Mignini, who we come to know quite well in The Monster of Florence. The reason this point is so intriguing is because Mignini comes off as a little less than sane in Preston’s book. In fact, Mignini’s methods and behavior are downright frightening. Mirroring the Monster case, Mignini has introduced the same satanic orgies and other wild insinuations into this case as he did in the bizarre Monster investigation. To fully appreciate what I am talking about, I can only suggest that you read the book. (In depth interview on titles American Girl, American Nightmare)

The Monster of Florence: A True Story by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi

Who knew?  I certainly don’t recall hearing of a serial killer or serial killings in Florence, Italy, yet here is a whole account of the heinous murders dating back to 1968.  Parallel to the gruesome deaths of seven couples is the equally heinous probe and investigation into the actual murders.  Douglas Preston takes us on a dark and fascinating journey into the hills and history of Italy as he and “monstrologer” Mario Spezi try desperately to find the perpetrator of these crimes.

Going to Italy with the sole intention of writing a new mystery, writer Preston packs his young family up and rents a charming villa in Florence.  After meeting with journalist Mario Spezi, Preston is astonished to learn that his new residence sits next to the scene of a grisly murder committed by the ritualistic killer known as the Monster of Florence.

Divided into two parts, the first takes us on a history of the Monster’s crimes and introduces us to evidence as well as the possible suspects and their individual histories. Mario Spezi takes us with him to the scene of the murders, allowing us to see through his eyes and draw our own conclusions about what might have occurred. Part two leads us into the great cultural divide between America and Italy. Covering legal procedure as well as civil rights, we watch in horror as the police run an unethical and insane investigation into the murders, ultimately taking down both Mr. Preston and Mr. Spezi.

Like watching a horror movie with our eyes partially covered, The Monster of Florence is a chilling account of the tragic murders and the ruined lives left in their wake.  To die a torturous death is hellish enough, but Douglas Preston pays tribute to the victims and their families by reminding us that those left behind still suffer and deserve honest answers.

The Monster of Florence takes us on an absolutely wild ride that still continues to this day.  With such a large cast of characters and events, one needs to utilize the timeline and character references provided at the beginning of the book.  Besides keeping the cast of characters straight, the most challenging thing about this book is remembering that it is, in fact, true. A story this insane reads like pure fiction.

-By Megan Shaffer

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