Monster of Florence Book Review

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Emily on 14-10-2012

The Monster of Florence Book Review


The Monster of Florence tells the story of the search for a serial killer who murdered young lovers in the secluded hills around Florence, Italy between 1968 and 1985. Two journalists, one American, one Italian, team up to investigate the gruesome murders. Another aspect of the book is the exposure of the incompetence of the Italian government, and its “grabbing at straws” technique of finding potential suspects.

The two authors, Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi, are both journalists. Preston has written many suspense novels, some with fellow author Lincoln Child. As a teenager, Preston spent a summer in Italy. He decided, 30 years later, to move to Florence with his family. Preston came to Florence to write a murder mystery and met Mario Spezi, a well-known crime reporter for the Italian newspaper La Nazione. Preston found out he was living next to the scene of an old, unsolved murder. This crime is one of a series committed by the aptly named “Monster of Florence.” Spezi has been investigating the serial killings from the time they began in 1968. His fellow journalists at La Nazione nicknamed him the “Monstrologer”.

Spezi provided Preston with the history of the case and shared his information and documents. He also helped Preston understand the complicated Italian criminal justice system. They interviewed family members of the victims. They even interviewed the man they believe to be the Monster.

The authors divide the story of the gruesome killings into two parts. The first part is Spezi’s experience, and the second part is Preston’s experience.

The authors are not emotionally involved in most of the story, until they become suspects themselves. The Italian police put tracking devices in Spezi’s car. The writers were more objective than the government, who believed and tested every conspiracy theory thrown their way (like a dog being thrown a bone). At one point in the case, detectives relied on the outrageous testimony of a conspiracy theorist, Gabriella Carlizzi, who connected the killings with a satanic sect called the Red Rose. (She also blamed the September 11 attacks on the Red Rose.) A chief inspector was so convinced by this sect theory that he described a doorstop as a communication device, “a bridge between this world and Hell.”

While the topic itself is quite fascinating, the book does a poor job of engaging the reader. There are over 70 secondary characters, some of whom have similar names that could be easily confused. The story drags on for what seems like forever. I was so bored with it that I had trouble getting all the way through the book. It had a monotonous tone, especially the first half. Some of the murders described are disturbingly graphic. Preston’s half of the book was much more interesting. I think people who are interested in having a career in journalism might enjoy this book.

Comments are closed.