Recent Read: The Monster of Florence

A serial killer who targeted young couples on late-night rendezvouses. Two writers who sought to find the truth, only to find themselves a part of the story. A mystery that’s never been solved.

Mario Spezi was an Italian journalist who became the go-to reporter for stories on the “Monster of Florence.” Between 1968 and 1985, 16 people (eight couples) were murdered by this elusive killer. Spezi covered all the cases.

Douglas Preston moved to Florence to write a novel, but instead met Spezi, became entralled with the saga and partnered with him to write a book about it.

Their book, The Monster of Florence, lays out the crimes and decades of investigation methodically. While four people have been charged with being the Monster, several of them convicted, the case has never officially been solved in the eyes of many.

Spezi and Preston have a theory as to who committed the crime and elaborate on that in the book.

The book is not for the faint of heart.

From Goodreads page

From Goodreads page

As I read it, I was disgusted by the brutality of these murders. They’re unthinkable. But what was also disgusting (in an entirely different way) was the manner in which the police investigation was conducted. As Spezi and Preston write it, the police wanted to convict someone, got a suspect in mind and then fabricated/bent/created evidence to fit that suspect.

Spezi was arrested for being the Monster at one point and Preston was interviewed and named a person of interest for lying to police, by telling them what he knew. It wasn’t what police wanted to hear, so it was a crime. As Preston writes it anyway.

It makes me glad to know that I live in a country where if I chose to write about the flaws in a police investigation, or question their tactics/suspects/evidence, I wouldn’t be thrown in jail without just cause. (At least, I hope I wouldn’t be.)

The Monster case remains open, but no murders have officially been linked to him since 1985. For me, that means the guy either moved, was imprisoned for another crime, died or became bored with the killings.

However, a Google search I conducted to check on the status of the crimes came up with this article from the Mirror in the United Kingdom.

It would appear there may be a new serial killer in the region, or at least serial rapist. (If you read the book this would seem to prove that its not the same perpetrator.) It seems also that there are some people in the area afraid that since the same prosecutors are involved and there’s the same level of fear, there may be something similar happening.

Let’s hope that a surviving victim and advances in DNA technology, not to mention the advantage of hindsight, help to avoid persecution of innocent people.

The Monster of Florence was an absolutely intriguing read about a police investigation desperate to reach a conclusion. I would recommend to any person who is interested in criminal investigations, especially those abroad.


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