Author Mario Spezi
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, Preston and Spezi, caught in the crossfire of a bizarre prosecutorial vendetta.
GEMS: If you’re a fan of true crime novels, then you will enjoy this book. It is along the lines of Anne Rule novels or a 48 hrs. of hard evidence, the extended version. Preston details the blunders behind the case of the Monster of Florence and exposes the corruption in the Italian legal system. He illustrates the flaws with detective work and how cultural beliefs can very much hinder and affect an investigation. It makes one look at its own legal system and question how much our societal beliefs, whether consciously or unconsciously get in the way of executing true justice — or in this case, so much injustice. Although the Monster is never completely revealed, Preston does an excellent job of showing its many forms. The Monster is in all of us and we often feed it, giving it life and allowing it to grow.
FLAWS: The formula which is used to tell true crime can sometimes be a bit dry. Details are ‘reported’ and events are logged in a way that can seem boring or distant, but this is the nature of the genre. The first half of the book reads like a news report mixed with a history lesson. Mid way through Preston makes an entrance and it picks up because he is able to provide personal observations relieving him of the restraints of investigative reporting. However, towards the end the story shifts again and all information is given second hand and from a distance, which is typical of a journalistic approach. Preston states that unlike his usual thriller crime stories, this particular case has no conclusion, no ending or murder solved and killer captured. He leaves you where you started, still pondering who is the Monster of Florence, but with a bit more insight and possible suspects, but nothing reliably concrete. I admit I liked this about the book, but some might find it to be a let down.