Wednesday, September 03, 2008

What I'm Reading This Week

Despite being unable to resist a good murder mystery, true crime leaves me cold. Douglas Preston's recent book, The Monster of Florence, is an exception.
I was lured into reading it by Preston's reputation as an author of bestselling fiction, notably his collaboration with detective author, Lee Child.
Aficionados of true crime will be enticed by the lurid and horrific descriptions of the crimes which spanned several decades; The murders were unspeakably vile and sad--young lovers attacked in the act of lovemaking in the idyllic Tuscan countryside around the city of Florence, Italy. The killings were clearly premeditated by a highly intelligent and organized killer or killers.
These descriptions ring true since they are first hand since Preston's co-author, Mario Spezi, was present at the scenes of all but the first of the crimes. It was Spezi who coined the name that followed the serial killer once the connection was made between the first three known murders.
What is truly exceptional about The Monster of Florence is the "other" story: the one that might not be as compelling to the true crime reader, but will appeal to those who enjoyed the juxtaposition of serial killer and Chicago history in The Devil in the White City.
Researching a novel in Italy, Preston is sidetracked by the ongoing investigation into the Monster by Spezi. Over the next several years, both doggedly pursue the story of the bungled investigations that led to arrests and convictions of innocent people for the crimes, as well as prestigious promotions for the lead investigators in the case. In retaliation, Preston and Spezi both find themselves charged with crimes; Spezi is charged with masterminding the murders and serves time in prison.
Now, I am waiting for the news that this book has been optioned for a film. It offers the reader a story that competes with The Da Vinci Code. Just one difference: in life, unlike fiction, the wrap up is missing. Despite being one of the most notorious serial killers pursued through an investigation lasting for several decades, the Monster of Florence has never been caught.
Find The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi at the CLC Library.

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