The Monster of Florence, which was shortlisted for the prestigious CWA Gold Dagger Award for Non Fiction in 2010, is a true account of brutal serial murder in idyllic Florence. After settling in Italy in 2000, Douglas Preston discovered that the olive grove in front of his family's new home had been the scene of one of the most infamous double-murders in Italian history, committed by a serial killer who had never been found and was known only as the Monster of Florence. Preston, intrigued, met Italian journalist Mario Spezi, who had followed the case since the first murders in 1974, to learn more.
This is the true story of their search for - and identification of - the man they believe committed the crimes, and their chilling interview with him. It's also the story of how Preston and Spezi themselves became embroiled in the case. Like one of Preston's bestselling thrillers, The Monster of Florence tells a gripping and harrowing story of murder, mutilation, suspicion and ruined lives - and at the centre of it, two brave writers trying to uncover the truth at all costs. This latest edition includes an explosive afterword about the much-publicised murder of a British student, Meredith Kercher, and its connection to the monster case.
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An intriguing and fascinating page-turner ... with as many twists as a novel ... Tuscany is as vividly drawn as the people who inhabit its landscape ... a cracking read - Minette Walters
The fascinating story unfolds with memorable characters and dizzying plot twists that could come off as far-fetched if the book was fictional ... the two collaborators skillfully weave the narratives back and forth to create, at times, a razor's edge of tension - Associated Press
Lucid and mesmerising - TIME
The authors have brilliantly mapped out the dark, labyrinthine story of his crimes - Men's Vogue
A meticulous account - Kirkus
The co-authors expertly and entertainingly guide the reader through an epic, colorful cast of characters and the stranger-than-fiction machinations of a Byzantine Italian judicial system - Washington Post
Preston knows how to load his storytelling with intriguing evidence and damning details. His feverish style keeps the reader turning with the hope of uncovering the killer's identity - USA Today
The only thing that stops it being a perfect crime novel is that there's no resolution ... Various investigators, journalists, protagonists and novelists ... have all tried to capture the hypnotic horror of the Monster in the past. But this new book is one of the best I have read. The combination of Spezi's expertise with Preston's narrative skills and his outsider's clarity of vision makes it both detailed and clear. They perfectly evoke the contrast between the gruesome crimes and the sublime backdrop ... a gripping read - The Observer
This is a book that anybody who enjoys crime and horror stories should read - Evening Standard
A rigorous study of a case that gripped the Italian media. Part thriller, part police-procedural, it is ultimately the incompetence of the Italian police, rather than the violence of the killer himself, which terrifies the reader - Financial Times
Their gripping story gives a deeper insight into the murky workings of Italian justice than any book in English for some time - The Independent
It would appear that the Italian law-enforcement agencies are every bit as corrupt and inept as most crime novels set in Italy suggest they are ... a rattling good story. Preston has arranged his material with skill and presents a great deal of complicated information lucidly and with good pace - Daily Telegraph
Preston tells the story from the start, in classic thriller style: 60 short chapters, each with an effective twist ... The resulting book is intensely readable and sometimes moving, particularly when Preston, post-9/11, confronts the fact that evil is by its nature incomprehensible - Irish Times
The tone changes from the patient objectivity of true crime to the paranoia and frustration of a travel narrative in which Preston finds himself enmeshed in an alien culture whose obscure bureaucracy he can't hope to fathom. This makes for compulsive reading ... It is this dual register that makes The Monster of Florence so surprisingly original a read - The Sunday Times
A gripping read - The Times
The first part of the book is a full account of the murders ... but the second part is equally alarming as Preston recounts the authorities' odd attempts to find the identity of the Monster of Florence, led by accusations made by a clairvoyant. This is a page-turner with relevance to the current trial of Amanda Knox, as said clairvoyant has claimed a link between the cases - Metro
There is a small and specialised club of crime writers who use talents honed in fiction to try to solve real murders ... thriller writer Douglas Preston joins their clique ... The underlying theme of an American innocent visiting a beautiful country that turns out to be an Old European cesspit of murder and corruption is ideal for Hollywood: Tom Cruise is already being linked with the role of Preston. But don't let that put you off - Time Out
A lively, extremely readable account of the tortuous threads of the twenty-five-year investigations, and more particularly the authors' own involvement in it. With its shenanigans and convolutions, the story might more properly belong in the realm of comic opera, were it not for the profoundly disturbing light it sheds on Italian justice, and the fact that it chronicles, in careful detail, the way senior policemen and lawyers made careers out of pursuing lines that they knew to be false, while ignoring those that proved to be valuable - Times Literary Supplement
Douglas Preston is a renowned author of both fiction and non-fiction, including The Codex, Relic and The Book of the Dead (co-written with Lincoln Child), which topped the New York Times bestseller list for six weeks. He has written articles for The New Yorker, Reader'sDigest, National Geographic, Harper's, Smithsonian and Atlantic. He also worked for the American Museum of Natural History as managing editor of Curator magazine.
Mario Spezi is an Italian journalist writing for La Nazione, who has been investigating the Monster of Florence case since the first murders in 1974.