The Monster of Florence, by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi

Book 40

Novelist Douglas Preston went to Florence and found himself living right next to the scene of a double murder – one of seven committed by a serial killer.  The victims were all young lovers, shot with a handgun in the middle of the act.  Then the girl was mutilated with a scuba knife.

Preston grew all obsessed with the case and teamed up with Spezi – a Florentine journalist that had been investigating from the beginning.  Spezi gives us the background, and notes that someone asked the FBI for a psychological profile.  The profile fits one of the people that the U.S. might call a “person of interest”.

The thing is, the story is much more about the lame investigations and gawdawful accusations and prosecutions that culminate in Spezi and Preston themselves being accused of obstruction/perjury/other such nonsense in the Monster case.

The book was published in 2008, and mentioned the Amanda Knox case in the Afterword.  Knox lived in the same area and was prosecuted by the same thug that was after Spezi and Preston.  Preston didn’t say, “Amanda is innocent,” but he said that he was approached by another journalist that had information that might have led to her exoneration.  The journalist was frightened into stifling it.

Apparently, saving face is a great big deal in this culture.  Preston asserts that the prosecutors would pick a theory, then pursue evidence to prove it – disregarding any facts that may contradict it.

The reviews of this book suggest that Florence itself is the main character here.  Perhaps the same could be said for the Italian judicial system.  It is far more frightening than the murderer.

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