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The Monster of Florence

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  19,716 ratings  ·  2,127 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
Hardcover, 322 pages
Published June 10th 2008 by Grand Central Publishing (first published 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)
112th out of 3,592 books — 5,484 voters
In Cold Blood by Truman CapoteHelter Skelter by Vincent BugliosiThe Stranger Beside Me by Ann RuleThe Devil in the White City by Erik LarsonThe Manson File by Nikolas Schreck
True Crime
10th out of 417 books — 457 voters

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Community Reviews

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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
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
Nick Pageant
Oct 07, 2014 Nick Pageant rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: True crime enthusiasts
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Glenn Sumi
Jun 21, 2015 Glenn Sumi marked it as unfinished
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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

A very disappointing read, I was expecting information about the Monster and the crimes committed, instead this read more like a biography of Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi and how they became involved with the police investigation. Also the writing was really bad, haven't read any of Preston other books (and probably won’t) but you can tell non-fiction is not his strong suit. Meh
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
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
La Mala  ✌
Yo me pongo a leer no ficción sobre asesinatos y me deprimo. Pero, después, igual agarro un libro nuevo del mismo género para el to-read.

James Ellroy me arruinó.
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
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
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!
Just remembered to come rate this one today with the news of the Amanda Knox verdict getting overturned. Big lesson from this book: Never, ever, ever get in legal trouble in Italy. Based on the crazy crackpot theories the cops in this book come up with, on no evidence, it makes me fear for anyone taken to court in a major case in Italy.

Anyway - it's an interesting read about a serial killer in Florence in the 70s and 80s, and the many, many people wrongly accused of being or helping said serial
Ashley *Hufflepuff Kitten*
Feeling an urge to reread this in the wake of seeing the Amanda Knox trial come to a close.
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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.” 25 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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