I’m in the middle of The Monster of Florence, a retelling of a gruesome string of murders between 1968 and 1985 in Florence, Italy. In the first half of the book, co-author Doug Preston gets us up to speed on the serial killer (or killers) that ripped Florence of its innocence. The killer would target young lovers on moonless nights as they had sex in their cars in different secluded areas. He would kill both by gunshot, and mutilate the female. Eight of these murders (16 people) happened in 17 years time. Due to the fact that all the bullets were from the same gun, and the MO was nearly the same in all cases, the police could only believe they were all connected. The man was named The Monster.
Preston’s co-author Mario Spezi was the journalist during a majority of this time. Because he was so close to the cases, he was seen as an authority figure. He even wrote a book about the murders in the ‘80s. Preston moved to Florence with his family in 2000, learned of the still-unsolved serial murders and partnered up with Spezi to write about it (and try to nab the killer). (If you ever read Thomas Harris’ sequel Hannibal - when Hannibal Lector lives in Florence after escaping at the end of Silence of the Lambs – many of his storylines, themes and characters are based on people from the time of The Monster of Florence. Harris even stayed at the home of the lead investigator.)
I’m almost finished with Part I of the book, which recounts the murders and the coinciding investigation. The police had several different leads, arrested many men, but could never find enough proof to pin the murders on any one person. The retelling of the murders are pretty awful, and it’s very easy to get confused when there are so many players with very similar-sounding Italian names. But, the book is good. Not awesome, but good. It’s painful to read about all the mistakes the police made; this kind of thing didn’t happen in Florence, so I feel they were pretty out of their league, especially at first. But the story is also very interesting. In 2007 it was a Dateline episode, so I’m thinking of trying to find that online and watching it after I read the book.
The second half of the book is Preston’s story – after he moves to Florence and begins his research into the murders. The cover flap even alludes to Preston and Spezi getting so close to the investigation they become suspects themselves. I’m anxious to get to that part.