Natalie's Reviews > The Monster of Florence

The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston
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's review
Dec 19, 2008

really liked it

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 Sardinia, the voyeurist culture, and the Italian judiciary. The cast of chacacters grow and the years pass. The plot thickens - so to speak - and we learn of things saintly and satanic. The chapters are concise mouthfuls - amuse bouche. They kept the pace of the book brisk and steady. It is easy to settle into this romp of twists and turns.

That fact that the book relates a true story hits home when the drama becomes more personal. This is not the artificial tugging at heartstrings of a TV series. And the end of the book almost lurches in another direction - no longer the Monster - but college girls, murder and the rumor of satanic rituals.

The lessons learned here seem to have little to do with the Monster himself and hence the story does not end as neatly as an Agatha Christie paperback. You may or may not find that satisfying but you'll enjoy the ride.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Amy (new)

Amy Is the entire book based on a true story or just one incident? Sounds intriguing but I'm not sure I would like the darker aspects if there is no strong redemption in the end. Would you recommend it based on that concern?

Natalie It's all true and the story relates the history of the investigation from the 1970's through to the present so there are many incidents both from the crime side to the investigation side.

In as much as it is a true story, the "redemption" you seek (young padawan) may or may not be found. Perhaps that is a matter of opinion. But the authors do lead us to some conclusions so we aren't left hanging. And there are other conclusions, which are not even about the Monster.

Henry W. Wagner wrote on Amazon:
"The back cover copy of the advance reading copy of TMOF compares it to John Berendt's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City. The comparison is apt, but only to a point, as both these non-fiction works feel more like novels. TMOF, on the other hand, feels more like the product of journalists than novelists (certainly not surprising, given the backgrounds of its respective creators), calling to mind books like Jimmy Breslin's outstanding .44, or Vincent Bugliosi's memorable Helter Skelter. That's not to say it's any less gripping because of that tendency; in fact, in might have made the book all the more immediate and enthralling, because, in this instance, the strange facts in this case alone are enough to capture and hold any reader's attention."

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