Monday, January 16, 2012

#1: The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi

Thriller writer Douglas Preston goes to Florence to research a new novel, with his family in tow, and rents a house that happens to be near the site of a real-life double murder attributed to a serial killer. Preston becomes very involved--perhaps too involved--in the story, working alongside a local investigative reporter, and it all goes in some surprising directions in The Monster of Florence.

I grabbed this non-fiction work out of a stack at a library book sale largely because of a visit to Florence last spring.  I had picked up and put down a lot of Preston's fiction but thought I would give him another look because of the locale and subject matter.

The story is fascinating and almost wouldn't make a believable fiction story, as the hunt for the serial killer involves political machinations, officials trying to use the case for personal gain, the shadow of secret societies, low-lifes working various angles, and a full cast of cops, criminals, crackpots, cast-offs, and other colorful characters.  The crimes, and subsequent investigations, cover several decades and end with a surprising denouement (which, incidentally, isn't the capture of the Monster).

Overall, I would recommend the book for fans of true crime and of Preston's fiction. In general I think the reader's enjoyment of the work will depend largely on how one feels about Preston putting himself square in the middle of a string of unsolved murders that has unintended consequences for himself and others.  Interesting reading.

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