The Monster of Florence – Douglas Preston & Mario Spezi

This is a non-fiction book about the Florence based serial killer (of at least 16 people) who operated since the 1960s, and then stopped. The two authors cover the story with considerable knowledge, as their activities ultimately brought them to the attention of the prosecuting authorities. And in truth, as much as the book is about the murders, and the hunt for him, it’s as much about the incompetence, and mind numbing stupidity exhibited by some of the authorities in Italy. The authors believe they know who the killer was, but it’s not an opinion shared by these authorities.

The book gives good coverage of the killings and the related investigations, without sensationalizing; merely reporting facts. This helps make it a fascinating book. Indeed, the fact the story is told in straightforward prose, with a level of understatement, adds to the shock and awe at the blundering about of the investigators – or most of them. (It appears that authors of fiction often understate the chaotic state of criminal prosecution in Italy, to the extent that miscarriages of justice must be common occurrences. Shocking beyond belief. It’s enough to put me off going back to Italy…)

But while the Monster’s murders are fading into history, there is a real connection with a more modern, still present case: that of the murder of Meredith Kercher. If you read this book, I promise your feelings about the accusations raised against Amanda Knox and her boyfriend, will be forever changed.