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The Monster of Florence

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3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  23,006 Ratings  ·  2,383 Reviews

In the tradition of John Berendt's and Erik Larson's , Douglas Preston weaves a captivating account of crime and punishment in the lush hills of Florence, Italy.





Douglas Preston fulfilled a lifelong dream when he moved with his family to a villa in Florence. Upon meeting celebrated journalist Mario Spezi, Preston was stunned to learn that the olive grove next to his home h

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Hardcover, 336 pages
Published June 10th 2008 by Grand Central Publishing (first published 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jeffrey Keeten
”This is the nature of the evil of the Monster of Florence. And this is the nature of the evil in each and every one of us. We all have a Monster within; the difference is in degree, not in kind.”

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The number of victims involving the Monster of Florence are staggering, those murdered and those accused.

We are all potential killers. Each and every one of us is capable of killing someone, usually that would be while protecting ourselves or protecting someone we love. Then there are those who live in
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Brooke
Jul 12, 2008 Brooke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008, non-fiction
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
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Dan Schwent
Apr 09, 2012 Dan Schwent rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 Italian serial killer and his murders. It's a fascinating journey into a reign of terror that lasted decad
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Karly *The Vampire Ninja, Luminescent Monster & Wendigo Nerd Goddess of Canada (according to The Hulk)*
You know you are a bookaholic when you find yourself in a quaint little bookshop in Venice staring at a copy of The Monster of Florence... CQ convinced me, by way of saying he would pack it in his own luggage, that I was not leaving the shop without this book.

My boyfriend is better than your boyfriend :P. ♥

Nick Pageant
Jul 27, 2014 Nick Pageant rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: True crime enthusiasts
Shelves: nonfiction
Dolci colline di sangue. That's a corruption of an Italian phrase about the rolling hills of Florence; it means Rolling hills of blood. It's also the title of an Italian version of this book and probably a better one.

This book details the investigation into a series of murders that began in 1968 and finally ended in 1985. 16 people were shot to death in the hills surrounding Florence, Italy during that time. All the victims were killed with the same gun.

I do not, as a rule, go in for true crime
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Kristin
I am stunned by how much I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Serial Podcast invoked an old and underlying interest in me that has now become an obsession; unsolved mysteries. It is a morbid confession to say how much I enjoy reading about serial killers and spooky mysteries because not only are serial killers the most disappointed and tortured souls to walk the Earth, they usually torment and torture their victims, leaving a path of destruction in their wake. However, their tragic tales sure do tell ...more
Craig
Jun 17, 2017 Craig rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


One of the rare times that I can kind of recall the content of a book I have read a while back 😁

I had known of the mythos of "Il Mostro" previous to reading this book, a usual case of a killer wreaking havoc, never been caught and so on. Now this book really interested me because the guy that wrote it unknowingly bought a home on or near one of the murder sites. When he discovered this fact he took it upon himself to dig into the mystery....

This book throws up so many new and possibly far fetche
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Barbara
Dec 24, 2011 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

From the late 1960’s to the 1980’s a serial killer sporadically stalked the countryside around Florence, murdering young couples and mutilating the female victims. Over the years, numerous men became suspects, many were jailed, and some were put on trial. To this day, however, the true killer, dubbed “the monster of Florence” has not been identified.

Douglas Preston, an author of crime novels, moved to Florence with his family to write a novel. Once there he decided to write a non-fiction book a
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John Wiswell
Jul 21, 2008 John Wiswell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Char
May 19, 2014 Char rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Layla
Jul 30, 2015 Layla rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Wow... I had to actually force myself to read the last half (at least) of this book. It started really well, and the story about the Monster was really interesting. The story on the investigation I found kinda tiresome. It just went on and on and on and there are only so many times I can roll my eyes without bringing on a migraine: the ridiculous antics of the tinfoil hat wearing Italian Police and their legal counterparts got extremely old very fast. Ditto the Preston & Spezi show. The enti ...more
Carol
Sep 03, 2012 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
Vera Brandão
May 11, 2012 Vera Brandão rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: leituras-2012
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
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Glenn Sumi
Jun 15, 2015 Glenn Sumi marked it as unfinished  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps I'll come back to it later. After a great beginning, Preston lost me. Didn't have the tension or storytelling verve of an Erik Larson book, which I was expecting.
Carlos Azevedo
Feb 17, 2016 Carlos Azevedo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Não é um romance. É uma descrição bem feita sobre um conjunto de crimes nos arredores de Florença.

Até aqui tudo seria normal, não fosse o caso do outro Monstro que emerge do livro ser o da justiça italiana, e a forma como a investigação descamba em ataques pessoais, teorias rocambolescas e jogos de poder na magistratura. E, helas! uma enorme semelhança com a justiça portuguesa e a sua promiscuidade com os jornalistas (estou a escrever isto num dia em que se soube que uma audiência à porta fechad
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Krissy
Jan 14, 2016 Krissy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Krissy by: Nick Pageant
What a freaking ride. This story is so fantastical it's difficult to believe this actually happened! I was sucked in from the very first word spoken by the narrator. Because the narrator (Dennis Boutsikaris) happens to be the narrator of Child 44 which was one of my favorite reads of 2015. So it was like being squeezed into the best kind of hug by a favorite family member you haven't seen in a long time. So that added to such an engrossing tale equaled one happy Krissy. The only reason I rated i ...more
Patrick Collins
Sep 10, 2008 Patrick Collins rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Ashley *Hufflepuff Kitten*
Feeling an urge to reread this in the wake of seeing the Amanda Knox trial come to a close.
Nichole (Dirrty H)
First half of the book: 5 stars.

It's a really fascinating serial killer story, and the way the story was organized and all the details presented was perfect. I was completely glued to the story, and when the author revealed his suspect, it had just the right impact.

Second half of the story: 3 stars

Some crazy shit happened after Douglas Preston got involved in the whole thing. Turns out the Italian justice system isn't any better or more ethical than the US one. The way they twisted and contorte
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Romie
Nov 21, 2012 Romie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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Yaya
Aug 22, 2015 Yaya rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A lot of this book centered around Mario Spezi, not so much The Monster. I grew bored when the author went into detail about Italy and the people of Italy and his own personal narrative. And jeez Louise the incompetence of the Italian criminal justice system (and police) was getting on my nerves.

Not enough meat in this book, and if I hear the word 'carabinieri' one more time I'M gonna kill somebody.
Meave
Jun 11, 2010 Meave rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sweet mother of mercy, no wonder Amanda Knox had such an insanely bad time of it. This is the best true crime/it happened to me/"behold, the horrors of the [Italian] justice system" story I've read in forever. It's INSANE.
Jill
There are frequently days when the crappiness of the world is too awful to even contemplate and I struggle not to simply fall to the ground, wrap my head in my hands, and give up. But after reading The Monster of Florence, no not anymore, because I have a talisman, a mantra of sorts, to repeat and cling to in these moments of darkness. I have a reminder that even if things are bad, they are not and could never be as uncomprehendingly inefficient, vile, pathetic, medieval, and, yes, even evil, as ...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
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Natalie
Dec 19, 2008 Natalie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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jb 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
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Gemma
Jan 17, 2012 Gemma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, crime
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
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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...

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“We all have a Monster within; the difference is in degree, not in kind.” 1756 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.” 9 likes
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