All that changed when he discovered that the lovely olive grove in front of their house had been the scene of the most infamous double-murders in Italian history, committed by a serial killer known only as the Monster of Florence. Preston, intrigued, joined up with the crack Italian investigative journalist Mario Spezi to solve the case.
The Monster of Florence tells the true story of their search for - and identification of - a likely suspect, and their chilling interview with that man.
Then, in a strange twist of fate, Preston and Spezi themselves became targets of the police investigation into the murders. Preston had his phone tapped and was interrogated by the police, accused of perjury, planting false evidence and being an accessory to murder - and told to leave the country. Spezi fared worse: he was thrown into Italy's grim Capanne prison, accused of being the Monster of Florence himself.
The Monster of Florence, which reads like one of Preston's thrillers, tells a remarkable and harrowing story involving murder, mutilation, suicide, carnival trials, voyeurism, princes and palaces, body parts sent by post, séances, devil worship and Satanic sects, poisonings and exhumations, Florentine high fashion houses, and drunken peasants. And at the center of it are Preston and Spezi, caught in the crossfire of a bizarre prosecutorial vendetta.
©2008 Splendide Mendax, Inc. and Mario Spezi; (P)2008 Hachette Audio
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"Enjoyable true-crime novel"
I enjoyed this book quite a bit. Granted, the cast of characters, all with Italian names, was not easy to follow, but after a few hours of listening things sort themselves out. The narrator was superb - I'd put him in the Scott Brick category. I give up on about 1/3 of the audio books I buy before getting to the end, but not this one. This book actually made me look forward to the next-day's drive down the Interstate.
My biggest disappointment was finishing it. I doubt I'll find an adequate replacement.
One minor quibble: I do not think it was necessary, really, for the narrator to use a fake Italian accent while reading an English translation of what Italians said. The book would have not have been "written" with an Italian accent, and that would have made it easier to understand. On the other hand, the accent was well-done and did add flavor to the story, so it was an artistic decision I probably shouldn't second-guess.
If you like A&E shows like Cold Case Files, and international thrillers, you'll probably like this.
Anyone who plans on reading the Amanda Knox book,"Waiting to be Heard" needs to read Douglas Preston's Book first. I read them in reverse order. What an eye opener. Once you read this book and Amanda's there can be no doubt as to her innocence. Mr. Preston's book kept me out of circulation for three days. Every spare minute I found myself listening to this book. By itself it is a great listen but combine it with Amanda's and it's a must listen.
"Awsome mystery !!"
So what if it's too wordy and detailed... When the author includes the history of the town, he not only tells his story but also empowers us to understand the Floretine Italians. As a devout reader of murder mysteries for over 50 years, this is one of the most riveting books I have had to pleasure to come upon.
"Good story, bad reading"
The Monster of Florence's story has been told many times in italy, by many brilliant writers, but this book beats them all: it's very detailed, yet gripping. Spezi's theory on the monster's identity is questionable but also likely, like all the alternatives. I'd give this book five stars if it were not for the very bad reading. Most italian names are mispronounced at the point of being almost unrecognizable, even for somenone who has read and knows most of what was written about the monster. And the choice of giving all dialogues a stupid italian accent (not even florentinian, more south italian) is nonsensical and irritating: it makes it look like that the dialogues took place in bad english, while, obviously, they were all in italian.
"a documentary when you yen for a pithy mystery"
The description and the sample intrigued me, but listening to this book is taking too much work on my part to fully grasp and enjoy the volumes of research involved in this case.
I have made it almost halfway through and plan to forsake this book for something more entertaining.
Buy this book if you love documentaries - I think I will look for the printed version with photos to help me keep track of all the suspects.
"Great book, bad reader"
The book content is great: good pacing, a lot of threads which weave together into a good mystery and insightful commentary on Florence and Florentines.
However, as a person who spends a lot of time in Italy, married to a Florentine, I am annoyed and distracted by the reader's faulty pronunciation of Italian words and names. He reads the dialogue with a comical caricature of an Italian accent.
I wish I had stuck to the print version (which I bought first.)
"interesting story, poor narration"
I really enjoyed the story of Preston and Spezi's involvement in the case of the "Monster of Florence," but I found the narration irritating. He used a very fake, cartoonish Italian accent for many of the characters, which was distracting. He also mispronounced certain basic words - like "trattoria" along with other more difficult ones , like the town where Preston lived, which includes the tricky "gli" sound. I had to keep reminding myself not to think Preston was a total idiot. It's really a shame that the publishers didn't choose a narrator more familiar with the language.
The only thing I could think about while listening to this book was the 2007 David Fincher film, Zodiac. The film is a modern classic thereby making it difficult for The Monster of Florence to compete when essentially dealing with the same topics, e.g. unsolved murders, the unyielding grip of obsession, etc. As for the narration, annoying. The faux Italian emphasis on pronunciation wore on me like a fire alarm that would not turn off. All in all, interesting topic made plain by something far better having preceded it. My advice, throw Zodiac in your Netflix queue and spend your Audible credit on something else.
I was extremely disappointed in this book. I am a big fan of the Preston/Lincoln writing team. And Florence is one of my favorite cities. However, this offering was dry and unexciting. I could not even finish the book......I advise you to use your credits on another selection.
"Don't listen to before sleeping"
The Monster of Florence was a man who killed young couples (14 people in all) on the rural roads around Florence, Italy while they were making love in their cars. He then dragged the women off and cut out their vaginas. He once made a mistake and killed two German homosexuals, but one of them could have been easily mistaken for a woman.
I once made the mistake of listening to it just before I went to sleep and had terrible nightmares. Do not do this.
The real monster, however, was the Italian public, and the Italian Media, who made their own monsters and ruined the lives of innocent people. And the police, who enriched themselves while pretending to catch him. They never did, despite the most expensive, and longest lasting investigation in Italian history, which also ruined the lives of innocent people. Italy is the home of corruption and organized crime, and the police have become experts in dealing with them;and living with them. The Italian people as a whole in this book appear charming but incredibly foolish.
All in all, it's an interesting, but depressing story.
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