The Monster of Florence
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The Monster of Florence

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3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  16,781 ratings  ·  1,906 reviews
In the nonfiction tradition of John Berendt ("Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil") and Erik Larson ("The Devil in the White City"), New York Times bestselling author Douglas Preston presents a gripping account of crime and punishment in the lush hills surrounding Florence, Italy.
In 2000, Douglas Preston fulfilled a dream to move his family to Italy. Then he discovered...more
Hardcover, 322 pages
Published June 10th 2008 by Grand Central Publishing (first published January 1st 2008)
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The Devil in the White City by Erik LarsonFreakonomics by Steven D. LevittIn Cold Blood by Truman CapoteA Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill BrysonGuns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
Best Non-Fiction (non biography)
114th out of 2,830 books — 4,799 voters
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True Crime
11th out of 358 books — 432 voters


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Community Reviews

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Brooke
Despite my criminal justice background, I'm not a huge fan of true crime books. It's not that I dislike them, but unless the author has a personal connection to the case (ie: The Stranger Beside Me, Helter Skelter) they often just end up being a recitation of the facts without much more going for them.

When I first caught wind of Douglas Preston's debacle with an Italian serial killer, The Monster of Florence, I couldn't wait to read the resulting book. How often does one of my favorite bestse...more
Dan Schwent
Apr 26, 2012 Dan Schwent rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Dan by: The Great and Powerful Emily
Thriller writer Douglas Preston moved to Italy, only to find out the nearby olive grove was the scene of a ghasty double murder. Preston and the journalist originally covering the investigation, Mario Spezi, dig into the case of the Monster of Florence, even winding up being investigated themselves...

I know I made the synopsis sound like a thriller but this is non-fiction, the account of an Italiatian serial killer and his murders. It's a facinating journey into a reign of terror that lasted dec...more
John Wiswell
Jul 21, 2008 John Wiswell rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Crime readers, culture readers
The Monster of Florence is amongst the most disturbing cases I've heard of, much less read a full book detailing, but if you're like me you can't help but want insight into what would make people do such things, or at least know how a town would deal with them. The Monster was a serial killer who stalked, murdered and mutilated young couples in Florence, Italy. He had the disturbing habit of jamming items into the female victims, and cutting off parts of their erogenous zones as souvenirs. Seria...more
Kay
The Dark Side of Italy or An Innocent Abroad

Douglas Preston and co-author Mario Spezi undertook their own investigation into an unsolved string of serial killings -- seven couples brutally murdered in near-identical fashion in a period beginning in 1968 and stretching up to 1985. Spezi, a journalist who first caught wind of the case, is its most noted chronicler and was responsible for the appellation, "The Monster of Florence" to describe the killer.

The first half of the book reads like a stra...more
Charlene
I listened to this book on audio.

It was a fairly interesting listen, the narrator had a nice Italian accent that contributed a lot to my enjoyment of this novel. It's the horrible story of a serial killer in Florence, Italy. One whose identity remains a mystery to this day.

I learned that Italian police procedures are not reliable and they are unlike anything that we hear about in the U.S. I also learned that the Italian police and investigators do not require the same types of evidence that we...more
Verovsky Brandão
Não costumo dar muito 5 estrelas pelos livros e peço desculpa ser uma unhas de fome :P Mas o facto é que este livro me agradou mesmo muito. Não só pelo relato verídico e quase científico do modus operandi do Monstro de Florença mas também a forma como o governo italiano me chocou ao tentar abafar o caso.
Sou fã de Douglas Preston, acho-o mais do que um mero entertainer de literatura thriller e aflige-me ter passado por um conjunto de situações que me deixaram simplesmente incrédula.
Muito, muito...more
Dagny
I don't read a lot of non-fiction and when I do it's usually either biographies or travel. This may be the first true crime book I've ever read. It was fascinating and riveting; a real page turner. Kudos to Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi for presenting it in such a highly readable manner.
John and Kris
Recent history has shown that serial killers usually come from northern Europe and America. The never-caught Monster of Florence, credited with the murder of eight couples, is unique because the murders occurred around Florence, Italy in the nineteen-seventies and eighties. The Monster’s modus operandi is pretty straight-forward: catching unsuspecting rural teens necking in autos, shooting the male and then female (or in the case of two long-haired men, the nearest threat), and then a bit of sex...more
Xysea
I found this book good at the start, but slightly dry and disappointing. The story is compelling enough be then it meanders off into nowhere, really, and ends with the investigation stalling. So, basically they went through all of that for nothing. Sometimes, real life is stranger than fiction - but in this case, it's probably more boring than fiction would be. At the end of a fictional novel, the killer would have been unmasked and good will have triumphed over evil. In this version, the evil w...more
Patrick Collins
Sep 23, 2008 Patrick Collins rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: true crime lovers
Boy, did I waste money on this best seller. Other than finding out where Thomas Harris stole his story for Hannibal, and who Lector's crimes in Florence were based on, you really have to like true crime police procedurals for this to be as entertaining as advertised. But I worry for that American college student in Perugia (an honor student from Seattle) who's accused of murdering her British roommate after reading the duplicitous nature of Perugia public prosecutor and his reliance on the occul...more
Arun Divakar
This was my first encounter with a true crime book and if most of the works in this genre are written in this format then I would eventually turn to a devoted reader. This however was purely an experimental foray for me which did turn out to be a riveting read. The serial killer dubbed The Monster Of Florence was a new name for me and the accounts presented here rival any of the thrillers that Douglas Preston has written thus far. There are two parts to the book : the first written from the poin...more
Claudia
In fiction, crimes are explained, solved, resolved. In fiction. Best-selling author Douglas Preston finds himself drawn into a horrifying true crime story, and the results are catastrophic for him and his associate, Italian journalist, Mario Spezi.

A serial killer, loose in the hills around Florence, preying on couples parked in lovers lanes, for a quickie. The males are killed quickly, and the women are killed and dismembered. Years may pass between one killing and the next. Authorities are bot...more
Natalie
Not my bedtime read - but a great read. Doug Preston and Mario Spezi do a great job pulling us into all the mystery, intrigue, and lunacy of a case that has spanned more than three decades. Both writers are adept at richly describing the characters, the history, and the millieux of Florence and its surrounds. The crimes commited by the Monster are repulsive but Preston and Spezi do not dwell upon the gruesome details - they lead us through and beyond them.

I greedily took in the details of Sardi...more
Carol
Sep 03, 2012 Carol rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of Erik Larson's Devil in the White City, serial killers, cold cases
I'm a bit behind on my thoughts on what I've read so am going to give this a quick get-go. If you're a fan of true crime then this is a must read.

I've read a few of the Preston/Child Pendergast books and love that character. I'm appreciative of the detail he can provide to his novels from his background with the Natural History Museum of New York.

Somehow I missed Monster of Florence but I'm so glad I picked it up on audio for a recent road trip with my husband. We were both mesmerized by this...more
jennbunny Byrkit
Note to self: Never commit any crime in Italy!

All kidding aside, this book was well written and full of facts (or what I assume are facts since I never followed the case). Preston did an excellent job weaving this story and it almost reads as fiction. The wildest part of the entire story is knowing the killer is still at large and depending on his or her when the killings started this killer could still be walking amongst the crown anywhere in the world.

I will confess I do not know much about It...more
Gemma
I really can't believe this book, absolutely fascinating.
The story starts by detailing the true timeline of events over the 10 year period 'the monster' was killing, this told through the eyes of Mario Spezi who was the journalist on the case. The investigation into the murders was seriously flawed, and corrupt. If that isn't all, the second half of the book details Douglas Preston & Spezi's account of their investigation, and this makes for some shocking reading, more findings of corruptio...more
Bill McCartney
The Monster of Florence is an interesting true story about a series of murders committed between 1971 and 1985 in Florence, showing how Italian police inefficiency and corruption can distort the truth. This was particularly relevant when aimed at a result seen as favourable to the careers of the prosecuting team and welcomed by the press with escalating sales of newspapers.

A fascinating letter from Count Neri Capponi to an editor is included in the narrative and spoke plainly, including the foll...more
Cátia Santos
Na realidade, esta não é a história verdadeira acerca do "Monstro de Florença", pois essa continua envolta em mistério, mas é o relato, em primeira pessoa, do quão má foi a investigação dos crimes praticados por este alegado serial killer.

As falhas do sistema judicial italiano, desde os responsáveis pela investigação aos juízes que foram condenando uma lista interminável de suspeitos, são postas a cru neste livro. São inacreditáveis os erros na investigação, mas pior ainda, ver que se repetem an...more
Stephanie Bedrick
I CAN NOT believe this book! Absolutely incredible how truly ridiculous the Italian investigation of this is! Also incredible that the journalists are willing to put themselves on the line and name who they think is the "Monster of Florence." (They say this in the book jacket, so no surprises given!) Great, true life crime book!
Ruby
Nov 05, 2008 Ruby rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: true crime fans
Recommended to Ruby by: Rebekah Crain
I am not a true crime reader, but I love Douglas Preston so when I saw this on the shelf, I knew I just had to read it. Thus began an adventure that would rival that of Jack the Ripper. Liken to Jack, the Monster of Florence is the Italian legend who, instead of slaying prostitutes, would prey on young couples. With gun in hand, he would kill the man and woman before cutting into the woman's body. The description here is taken out because of the graphic nature of what the Monster did. It is some...more
Rio (Lynne)
First of all I am not a True Crime reader. When I saw this book, the cover grabbed my attention (due to my love of history and Italy). This is a non-fiction book about the horrendous unsolved Monster of Florence. Author Douglas Preston moves his family to Florence from the USA. This had been his dream. He wanted to write a new book and met with Italian journalist Mario Spezi. Spezi brought to his attention that Douglas moved his family to an area where the most gruesome murders and Italy's own J...more
Deborah Edwards
Some stories are created wholly by their authors, defined by concocted characters and whimsical flights of imagination, and other stories exist in the real world, ready-made for the taking, to be plucked from the ether and crafted into works of thought and substance by whichever authors become taken with them. If one were to hear the tale of the Monster of Florence without being first told that it was a true story, it would seem to have all of the elements of a work of fiction. Only no one would...more
Ed
Douglas Preston had planned a murder mystery in which the main character was the city of Florence, Italy. His book was going to span more than forty years and involve a son deciding resolve the unsolved murder of his father, an American art historian who was in Florence as a volunteer to help save some of the city's treasures after the disastrous floods of 1965. When Preston and his family set up housekeeping in a lovely old farmhouse overlooking the city and the Tuscan countryside he found a mu...more
Romie
This book - especially the second half - is a primary source in the investigation of an unsolved serial murder case and the odd behavior of an Italian prosecutor in the decades following. It's irreplaceable if it's a case you find interesting, and it's an account which has direct bearing on the Amanda Knox case from a few years ago.

Unfortunately, it's not a very good book, partly because it doesn't know what it wants to be - a thriller about the murders? An exploration of the Italian legal syste...more
La Petite Américaine
A book divided into two parts. The first is all terror and suspense as an unknown psychopath, dubbed The Monster, murders and mutilates couples making love in their cars in the hills outside of Florence. A few innocents will take the fall but eventually be released or have their names cleared posthumously. Part one ends with the case being closed, although the serial killer is still unknown today. Part two is about Douglas Preston and his journalist partner, Mario Spezi, trying to solve the case...more
Jen Padgett Bohle
The labrynthine true story of the as-yet-unsolved Monster of Florence serial killings, author Douglas Preston primarily focuses on the police and journalistic investigations that spanned almost half a century. Unfortunately, this work doesn't have the panache or build the suspense that Preston and Child's Agent Pendergast tales have. The story plods along and nearly sinks when discussing the most recent angle of investigations. Admittedly, the Italian Justice system in this case is a Gordian kno...more
Shelli
I found parts of this to be so crazy that it was almost aggravating....more so because it is a true story. Some of things seem like they couldn't happen in this day and age, but only happened a few years ago. Italy has always been one of the places I have always wanted to visit. I still do, but this book opens your eyes to "justice" and "rights" in another country. This does show a dark side of Italy and its laws. It made mention of the Amanda Knox case and now I want to look into that a little...more
Jessica Lave
I love true crime books, so when I happened across this one, I had to do it. Italy, serial killers, true crime, I couldn't resist.

I can't make up my mind whether it was better with the audiobook or if I would have preferred the book. It would definitely have taken me longer to get through the book. I think the pronunciation of the Italian names and original phrases was fun and useful in many ways, but the audiobook narrator was kind of funny: the Italian accent tended to trail back into non-Ita...more
Mirjam Penning
While I really am fond of True Crime Stories and this book was interesting, it didn't grip me like other True Crime books I've read.
Can't really say anymore what was of were the causes, because I read this book years ago already.
What I do remember was the way the case evolved. It's rather strange to accuse and arrest the people, who only investigate the case out of interest and to write about it. That event doesn't happen every day!
I still am glad I read it. I wouldn't want to miss out on any Tr...more
Neeka
This book is so crazy. I can't believe how the case of The Monster of Florence was handled... how many lives were ruined and how many crazy conspiracies were thought up just so the investigators and prosecutors could save face. Justice is really not known in this story ... add the Amanda Knox case to this story also - they actually brought up The Monster of Florence yet again. Freedom of speech for journalists - not known. This makes me wary of visiting Italy for the fact that if you're in the w...more
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Douglas Preston was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1956, and grew up in the deadly boring suburb of Wellesley. Following a distinguished career at a private nursery school--he was almost immediately expelled--he attended public schools and the Cambridge School of Weston. Notable events in his early life included the loss of a fingertip at the age of three to a bicycle; the loss of his two fr...more
More about Douglas Preston...
Relic (Pendergast, #1) The Cabinet of Curiosities (Pendergast, #3) Reliquary (Pendergast, #2) Brimstone (Pendergast, #5; Diogenes, #1) The Book of the Dead (Pendergast, #7; Diogenes, #3)

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“We all have a Monster within; the difference is in degree, not in kind.” 20 likes
“You cannot stare evil in the face; it has no face. It has no body, no bones, no blood. Any attempt to describe it ends in glibness and self-delusion.” 5 likes
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