Book: The Monster of Florence

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The Monster of Florence

Author: Douglas J. Preston, Mario Spezi
Publisher: Virgin Books

In 2000, Douglas Preston, the New York Times bestselling author of Blasphemy, fulfilled a lifelong dream when he moved his family to a stone farmhouse in Italy. Tucked into the side of a hill, his Tuscan home seemed like paradise on earth until he discovered that it had a dark past: the olive grove next to his home was the scene of a horrific double homicide by one of the most infamous figures in Italian history.

Intrigued, Preston teamed up with celebrated journalist Mario Spezi in order to learn more about the murderer—a still-at-large serial killer known as the Monster of Florence who ritually murdered 14 young lovers and carved up their bodies with unbelievable cruelty. This volume chronicles their chilling investigation—and reveals how they got a lot more than they bargained for when their cold case turned white hot. Before they were done, they would become prime suspects in the police investigation…and would come face-to-face with the man they believe is the true killer.

With the gripping suspense of Prestons bestselling novels, The Monster of Florence tells a remarkable true story of murder, mutilation, suicide and vengeancewith Preston and Spezi caught in the middle.


When author Douglas Preston moved his family to Florence he never expected he would soon become obsessed and entwined in a horrific crime story whose true-life details rivaled the plots of his own bestselling thrillers. While researching his next book, Preston met Mario Spezi, an Italian journalist who told him about the Monster of Florence, Italy’s answer to Jack the Ripper, a terror who stalked lovers’ lanes in the Italian countryside. The killer would strike at the most intimate time, leaving mutilated corpses in his bloody wake over a period from 1968 to 1985. One of these crimes had taken place in an olive grove on the property of Preston’s new home. That was enough for him to join “Monsterologist” Spezi on a quest to name the killer, or killers, and bring closure to these unsolved crimes. Local theories and accusations flourished: the killer was a cuckolded husband; a local aristocrat; a physician or butcher, someone well-versed with knives; a satanic cult. Thomas Harris even dipped into “Monster” lore for some of Hannibal Lecter’s more Grand Guignol moments in Hannibal. Add to this a paranoid police force more concerned with saving face and naming a suspect (any suspect) than with assessing the often conflicting evidence on hand, and an unbelievable twist that finds both authors charged with obstructing justice, with Spezi jailed on suspicion of being the Monster himself. The Monster of Florence is split into two sections: the first half is Spezi’s story, with the latter bringing in Preston’s updated involvement on the case. Together these two parts create a dark and fascinating descent into a landscape of horror that deserves to be shelved between In Cold Blood and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. —Brad Thomas Parsons

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