Shannon's Reviews > The Monster of Florence

The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston
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Feb 14, 10

bookshelves: the-basic-book-club, 2010
Recommended to Shannon by: Book Club
Recommended for: Anyone who likes true crime.
Read from February 06 to 14, 2010, read count: Once

Well, considering that I was going to wait until after the book club meeting to write my review of last month's selection and I still have to get to it, I am going to go ahead and write this review nowwhile everything is fresh in my mind. So, STOP reading NOW if you are in my book club and wait for our discussion in a couple of weeks!!!

If there were half stars on Goodreads rating system, I would probably have rated this one a two and a half. I REALLY wanted to REALLY like this book because I am such a true crime/serial killer freak, but I just didn't. And, I am having trouble putting my finger on the exact source of the problem...maybe it was several problems...maybe the book club discussion will help me ferret out the reasons why. But, here are a couple of thoughts:

(1.) Part I of the book was horribly written. It was dry and lifeless. The names and dates had me confused because there was alot of flip-flopping around in time. I am sure that my unfamiliarity with Italian names and how the Italian criminal justice system works contributed somewhat to my inability to really "get" into this part of the story. My mom, who is following our book club selections, also had the same opinion and told me that she is convinced that Part I was written entirely by Spezi in Italian and then translated and translated badly. When she said that, it made complete and total sense...it did have that stilted, translated feeling.

(2.) I felt that the dust jacket information was misleading in that Part II was more about the books that Preston and Spezi were writing and their legal troubles rather than exposing who the "real" Monster of Florence was. It was obvious to me that Spezi already had an opinion as to the identity and imparted that knowledge to Preston. The book spent not more than 10 pages on this endeavor. I do have to admit that Spezi's theory that Antonio Vinci is the Monster is a good one. My only problem with it is this...why did the killings stop? Psychosexual serial killers rarely stop on their own accord and ritualized ones like the Monster don't change their signature and modus operandi...they are incapable of it. So abrupt endings to serial killings are often tied to the killer being in jail, moving away, or being killed/having died. Vinci is none of these, so?!?!? This was not addressed in the book.

Now, having said all of this, I was fascinated with all of the trouble that Preston and Spezi got into in Italy. Scary stuff! And, it reminded me of two things...never to get in trouble in a foreign country (because weird things happen in THIS country...remember the Duke Lacrosse scandal?...never mind other countries) and never consent to be interrogated by the police without having counsel present, no matter how innocent you are! I was completely shocked at how the prosecutors listened to wackos like the Carlizzi woman who ran a conspiracy theory website and didn't even appear to listen to logic and instead just continued to dig their heels in and insist that they were right no matter what (I found the discussion about dietrologia fascinating). It sounds alot like dealing with toddlers, but even toddlers can eventually be reasoned with to a certain extent or at least distracted enough that you can turn them in the right direction ;-) Although, of course, that kind of prosecutorial/police stubbornness happens here too (e.g., refer again to said Duke lacrosse scandal or the story told in Grisham's An Innocent Man).

My favorite excert from the book: "the [Monster of Florence:] case was the purest distillation of evil I had ever encountered, on many levels. It was, first of all, the evil of the depraved killings of a highly disturbed human being. But the case was about other kinds of evil as well. Some of the top investigators, prosecutors, and judges in the case, charged with the sacred responsibility of finding the truth, appeared to be more interested in using the case to leverage their power to greater personal glory. Having committed themselves to a defective theory, they refused to reconsider their beliefs when faces with overwhelming contradictory evidence. They cared more about saving face than saving lives, more about pushing their careers than putting the Monster behind bars. Around the Monster's incomprehensible evil had accreted layer upon layer of additional falsehood, vanity, ambition, arrogance, incompetencec, and fecklessness. The Monster's acts were like a metastasized cancer cell, tumbling through the blood to lodge in some soft, dark corner, dividing, multiplying, building its own network of blood vessels and capillaries to feed itself, swelling, expanding, and finally killing."

Considering the Public Minister of Perugia in this book is the same that successfully convicted Amanda Knox in the Meredith Kirchner case this winter (personally, I was sure that an acquittal was forthcoming), Knox and her family have alot to worry about and I am saddened that Kirchner's family will never see justice for their daughter's real killer.
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Reading Progress

02/08/2010 page 52
16.15% "Had a hard time staying awake last night to read much. Not so sure if it was the book or the wine at Amy and Mark's the night before ;-)"
02/09/2010 page 101
31.37% "All I have to say is...an eggplant as an "accessory?!?!" A zucchini, I could understand, but an eggplant?!?! My goodness!!!"
02/12/2010 page 260
80.75% "Why do very smart people not take lawyers with them when they are interrogated by police??? Especially in a foreign country???" 3 comments

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