The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi

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Rate: 4.5/5

Medium: Audiobook

Overview: In mid August I made the literary acquaintance of Douglas Preston in The Lost City of the Monkey God. Having thoroughly enjoyed this wide spanning modern jungle adventure, I eagerly jumped at the opportunity to read The Monster of Florence, especially with glowing recommendations from Matt Ries and the Bunnie Bleaux. To be frank, my expectations were bordering on slim as I had thought I was embarking on a stereotypical murder mystery. As often happens with preconceived notions, they fell far off base with The Monster of Florence containing more mystery, intrigue, and politics than I possibly could have foreseen. In a time that the cases of Adnan (Serial Podcast) and the Steven Avery (Netflix) have captivated the American public, I’m quite surprised that this Italian serial murderer case has yet to garner the same attention. Preston and Spezi weave a tale that seems beyond the fabric of reality, especially as they find themselves at the focus of ongoing investigations. The Monster of Florence sets the stage by first highlighting, in somewhat cringe worthy details, the heinous murders and the initial blunder laden investigations. Falling prey to political ambitions and public pressures the investigators eventually delve into speculation and motives that seem stolen right from the synopsis of a crime novel as they dabble with the occult and wide ranging conspiracy theories. In threads that invoked additional feelings of déjà vu and mounting concern, with regard to current politics, was the importance placed on ‘fake news’ by key officials in the investigation, specifically a psychic. As someone who innately sees only the good in people and suspects only the most ethical sound intensions, I struggle when reading stories like this where individuals in placed in positions of power are morally compromised. On a side note, I’m rather jealous of Preston’s adventure filled gallivants that read more like modern day explorer novels. Overall, if you’ve recently found yourself swept into the hype surrounding the recent Adnan or Avery craze, than you’ll love The Monster of Florence, which contains many and more of the elements that caught the public attention of the aforementioned cases.




  1. Great review! I read this years ago and remember really liking it. About the corruption or “morally compromised” officials in the investigation, if I remember correctly I think at least one of them was also later involved in the Amanda Knox case, and brought up the same theories of occult sex murder there too. I don’t know why that’s his go-to but he’s bizarrely fixated on it. I was so disturbed by that as it sounds like you were too. Your review made me want to reread this one!

    Liked by 2 people

      • I didn’t pay attention then either, just read Wikipedia and a few articles years later. What happened seemed so clear that the Italian story looked all the more insane. (The Netflix doc gives a pretty good overview of the whole thing.) But I noticed the same prosecutor with the same far-fetched occult narrative and couldn’t believe it! I haven’t read anything else by Preston but I’m trying to read Dinosaurs in the Attic before visiting the NYC Natural History museum again 🙂 Do you recommend anything else by him?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m glad to see you enjoyed Monster. It looks like I should have mentioned that was true unsolved crime, so you had a better idea about what to expect when you started. But then again sometimes it just adds to the book when your expectations are wrong for the positive.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Matt! I really did enjoy it! I’m glad you didn’t say anything more about the premise of the book. I try to go into books fairly blind. What I meant to convey was that I’d expected the book a really good read but to be just a tradition unsolved serial killer story, however Preston evolves the tale beyond this stigma with his own personal experiences. Thanks for the recommendation!

      Liked by 1 person

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