rachel's Reviews > The Monster of Florence

The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston
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's review
Jan 25, 2012

bookshelves: criminals-or-tremendous-creepers, own, abandoned

I hate to give anything up when I've made it 100 pages in, especially when it was given to me as a gift, but this book is boring. Now here is one instance where those grocery store books are better. Douglas Preston is in love with Italy and has crammed this book with geographical details and history. Some readers might love this but for me, it had the effect of distancing me from his narrative, rather than helping it. With no offense meant to Italians: I am not in love with or interested in visiting Italy. So this history and geography does nothing for me, and I can't imagine it doing much for others who aren't interested in the history and geography of Italy.

But I also wasn't sucked in by the story of the crime itself. We're given little of the victim's lives, and the shooting of strangers is anyway a very impersonal crime. The driving force of true crime books, for me, is first knowing a little about the victims so that I care about them so that I am mentally encouraging detectives to work through their investigation in order to find the killer. Each step of the process becomes meaningful because its motivation is to seek justice for the people I've just gotten to know a little bit about.

There is this impression, a popular one, that Europe is "high culture" art and erotica and Americans are "low culture" sex and violence. I also wonder if my disinterest in this book comes from the fact that the Monster of Florence's crimes aren't a part of a society of superviolence, while each new story of some torrid crime in the US adds up to our fascinating, terrifying whole.

As a huge fan of the horror genre, my favorite era of film is both the American and Italian horrors of the 70's. While Italian horrors tend to be stylized, well-made and "classy" in their brutality (film students like Argento, right?), American horrors are gritty, dirty and above all, visceral. I'd say that's also the difference between this book and the American-set true crime that I love.
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04/27/2015 marked as: abandoned

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Melissa (new) - added it

Melissa I had the same problem with this book - very boring, very hard to care about all these people getting shot. Not too monstrous.

message 2: by rachel (new) - added it

rachel Ha, I saw your review before I picked it up and was hoping that even if it was a little dry, my love for the genre at least would push me through. I found out how right you were. :)

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