The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston with Mario SpeziSeptember 30, 2009
This book was deeply frightening, but I loved every minute of it. And it was not just frightening for all of the murders–it also made me scared to death of the Italian justice system. The first half of this book explores the bizarre series of “Monster” murders that occurred in the area around Florence in the 1980s. This is the part that kept me awake at night, because the murders were gruesome and sad. However, as the murder investigation continues, the police and prosecutors go a little crazy. That’s when things stop being scary and start getting bizarre and almost humorous.
But, then, the book transitions into it’s second story, where it also explores the strange, and frankly, Kafkaesque justice system that an American journalist was recently forced to navigate during his (totally legal) research into the Monster murders. Having just returned home from Italy, it was shocking to think that such a friendly, fun-loving city could possibly have such a backwards legal system.
The plot of this book couldn’t get any better, and the writing definitely worked well, too. I felt like I really knew the three main characters of the story–Douglas, Mario, and their third friend, Count Niccolo Caponi. The count was my favorite. He didn’t have that large of a role, but everything he said was absolutely hilarious. I ended up loving him. I’d highly recommend this book to anyone, but especially to those who have a fondness for Italy or Florence. Just don’t read this book right before bedtime.