The Monster of Florence [Douglas Preston, Mario Spezi] on The Monster of Florence and millions of other books are available for instant access. The Monster of Florence book. Read reviews from the world's largest community for readers. In the nonfiction tradition of John Berendt (Midnight in. The Monster of Florence: A True Story is a true crime book by American thriller writer Douglas Preston and Italian journalist Mario Spezi. It relates to a.

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Monster Of Florence Book

No one knows who the Monster of Florence was, but a compelling new book about the serial killer does finally suggest a culprit, writes Tobias. The Monster of Florence: A True Story. Douglas J. Preston, Author, Mario Spezi, With with Mario Spezi. Grand Central $ (p) ISBN. The Monster of Florence: Book summary and reviews of The Monster of Like one of Preston's thrillers, The Monster Of Florence, tells a remarkable and.

Back in , I moved to Italy with my family to write a murder mystery set in Florence. We rented a 14th century villa on a hill just outside the city, looking out over a lovely olive grove. I soon discovered the grove had been the site of one of the most horrifying double-murders in modern Italian history, committed by a serial killer known as the Monster of Florence. The Monster killed young couples making love in the Tuscan hills, mutilating the female victims and taking away their sex organs. He was never caught. In the olive grove outside our house, however, the Monster made a mistake. He killed a gay couple making love, in which one of the partners was young and slender with long blond hair. I never wrote the novel.

Preston has his phone tapped, is interrogated, and told to leave the country. Spezi fares worse: Like one of Preston's thrillers, The Monster Of Florence , tells a remarkable and harrowing story involving murder, mutilation, and suicide-and at the center of it, Preston and Spezi, caught in a bizarre prosecutorial vendetta.

Click to the right or left of the sample to turn the page. If no book jacket appears in a few seconds, then we don't have an excerpt of this book or your browser is unable to display it. Better than some overheated noir mysteries, this bit of real-life Florence bloodletting makes you sweat and think, and presses relentlessly on the nerves.

Preston fans and true-crime fans are sure to be riveted. He is a likable narrator, however, and his commitment to untrammeled press freedom is inspiring. The information about The Monster of Florence shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication.

If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews Click here and be the first to review this book! Douglas Preston was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in Preston attended Pomona College in Claremont, California, where he studied mathematics, biology, physics, anthropology, chemistry, geology, and astronomy before settling down to English literature. After graduating, Preston began his career at the American Museum of Natural History in New York as an editor, writer, and finally manager of publications.

Preston also taught nonfiction writing at Princeton University and served as managing editor of Curator, a journal for museum professionals. The announcement of the movie deal was far bigger news in Italy than it was in the U. The news, however, was not pleasing to Giuliano Mignini. He plays a prominent role in our book and it is not a good one. His displeasure must have deepened when he was asked by reporters who he thought should play himself in the movie.

And so, it seems, Mignini reacted. He filed a round of new charges against Mario. While I am safe in America, Mario is not. He came down with from a life-threatening pulmonary infection which his doctors think is partly due to an immune system compromised by stress. The legal costs have devastated him economically and he is close to losing his home. He lives in constant fear of arrest.

A married woman, Barbara Locci, had gone to the movies with her lover; afterward, they had parked on a quiet lane to have sex. They were ambushed in the middle of the act and shot to death. But Mele could not be the Monster of Florence: Overnight, every crime journalist in Italy wanted to interview Stefano Mele. The priest who ran the halfway house in Verona was equally determined to keep them away. Little by little, after taking generous footage of the priest and conducting a series of fake interviews with inmates, he reached Mele.

His first glimpse was discouraging: An expressionless smile, frozen on his face, revealed a cemetery of rotten teeth. Then, at the end, he said something odd: Spezi grasped something the police would also learn: Stefano Mele had not been alone that night in Investigators theorized that one of the killers had enjoyed the experience so much that he had gone on to become the Monster of Florence—using the same gun.

It focused on three Sardinian brothers: Francesco, Salvatore, and Giovanni Vinci. All three had been lovers in turn of the woman murdered in , and one or more had been present at her killing.

In September , with Francesco Vinci in jail, the Monster struck again. This was the killing that took place in the olive grove beyond our front door. A German couple had parked their Volkswagen camper in the grove for the night.

It was only after killing the two lovers that the Monster realized he had made a mistake: Instead of performing his usual mutilation, the Monster tore up a homosexual magazine he found in the camper and scattered the pieces outside. The authorities refused to release Francesco Vinci. They believed one of his relatives had tried to throw them off by committing a new murder using the same gun—or, at the very least, that Francesco knew who the Monster was.

Investigators became suspicious of another member of the clan, Antonio Vinci, and arrested him on firearms charges. They grilled the two men relentlessly, but were unable to break them, and finally were forced to release Antonio.

Francesco remained in custody. Four months later the police electrified Florence with an announcement, and once again Spezi had the scoop. La Nazione carried the banner headline: Francesco Vinci was released. All winter the police worked on the two men, desperately trying to extract confessions and develop their case—with no success. Summer arrived, and tensions rose in Florence, even though suspects were in prison.

Then, in July, the Monster struck again. Again he left the empty shells, which had become, perhaps intentionally, his calling card. He mutilated the woman and, adding a new horror, amputated and carried away her left breast. This killing, which had occurred outside Vicchio, the birthplace of Giotto, triggered a nationwide outcry and generated headlines across Europe.

Six times the Monster had attacked, killing twelve people, while the police had arrested and then been forced to release a steady stream of suspects. A special strike team was formed: Italy has two police forces that investigate crime, the civilian Polizia and a branch of the military known as the Carabinieri; they operate independently, and often antagonistically, especially in high-profile cases. Warning posters went up, and millions of postcards were distributed to tourists entering Florence, advising them not to go into the hills at night.

For Mario Spezi, the case had become a career.

He often appeared on television, and his soft voice and highly developed sense of irony were not always pleasing to investigators, especially those with whom he disagreed.

Spezi had a perverse passion for needling people in positions of power, and he developed a second career as a caricaturist for La Nazione , which regularly printed his outrageously funny cartoons of politicians, officials, and judges in the news.

At the same time, he continued to see Brother Galileo, who helped him make peace with the physical horror of the murder scenes and the metaphysical evil behind them. In the summer of the Monster resurfaced in what would be the most terrible killing of all. The victims were two young French tourists who had pitched a tent in a field on the edge of a wood, not far from the villa where Machiavelli wrote The Prince.

According to the reconstruction of the crime, the killer approached the tent and, with the tip of a knife, made a twelve-inch cut in the fly.

The campers heard the noise and unzipped the front flap to investigate. The killer was waiting for them and opened fire, hitting the woman in the face and the man in the wrist. The woman died instantly, but the man, an amateur sprinter, dashed out of the tent and fled toward the trees.

The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston

The killer raced after him, intercepted him in the woods, and cut his throat, almost decapitating him. The killer returned to his female victim to perform the usual ritual mutilation—and again, he carved out and carried off her left breast. This killing occurred on either Saturday or Sunday night; the date would become a matter of the utmost importance. The bodies were discovered by a mushroom picker on Monday at 2 p.

The Monster of Florence

On Tuesday, one of the prosecutors in the case, Silvia Della Monica, received an envelope in the mail. As with everything else, the killer had been careful not to leave fingerprints; he had even avoided sealing the letter with his tongue. The experience shattered Della Monica: Over eleven years, fourteen lovers had been shot with the same gun.

But the investigation had hardly begun. A judicial storm was mounting that would change its course and perhaps guarantee that the truth would never be known—and the killer never found.

There were two key players in the coming storm: Vigna was already a celebrity in Italy when he assumed his role in the Monster case. He had ended a plague of kidnapping for ransom in Tuscany with a simple method: Vigna refused to travel with bodyguards, and he listed his name in the telephone book and on his doorbell, a gesture of defiance that Italians found admirable.

The press ate up his pithy quotes and dry witticisms.

He dressed like a true Florentine, in smartly cut suits and natty ties, and, in a country where a pretty face means a great deal, he was exceptionally good-looking, with finely cut features, crisp blue eyes, and a knowing smile.

Mario Rotella, the examining magistrate, was from the south of Italy, an immediate cause for suspicion among Tuscans. He sported an old-fashioned mustache, which made him look more like a greengrocer than a judge. And he was a pedant and a bore. Under the Italian system, the prosecutor and the examining magistrate work together.

But Vigna and Rotella disliked each other and disagreed on the direction the investigation should take. The two suspects had been in jail when the French tourists were killed, and Vigna wanted to release them. Judge Rotella refused.

Sex crimes and the city

He remained convinced that one of the clan members was the Monster—and that the others knew it. For a while Rotella prevailed. His focus turned to Salvatore Vinci, who had been involved with Barbara Locci and Stefano Mele in an elaborate sexual threesome, and who appeared to have been the prime shooter in the killing.

Salvatore had been forced to leave Sardinia after his nineteen-year-old wife, Barbarina, was found asphyxiated by gas in their home. The death, in , had officially been determined a suicide—although everyone in town believed it was a murder.

His plan was to convict him for that murder, and leverage it against him to identify the Monster. The trial was a disaster: Antonio Vinci refused to testify against his father, at whom he glowered silently in court.

Salvatore was acquitted, walked out of the courtroom, and vanished, slipping through the hands of the police, apparently forever. This was the last straw for Vigna. He felt that the Sardinian investigation had led nowhere and brought nothing but humiliation. There was enormous public pressure to make a radical break.

Vigna argued that the gun and bullets must have passed out of the hands of the Sardinians before the Monster killings had begun. He demanded that the investigation be started afresh. Rotella refused. He was supported by the Carabinieri, Vigna by the Polizia. It was an ugly fight, and, as is usual in Italy, it devolved into a personality contest, which Rotella naturally lost.

The Sardinian Connection was formally closed, and the suspects—including the men who had participated in the killing—were officially absolved. The problem was that, if Rotella was right, the investigation could now proceed in every direction except the correct one. Officers in the Carabinieri were so angry at this turn of events that they withdrew the organization from the Squadra anti-Mostro and renounced all involvement in the case.

The chief inspector was not altogether pleased to see his alter ego gutted and hung from the Palazzo Vecchio by Hannibal Lecter. Perugini was more dignified than his sweaty and troubled fictional counterpart in the movie version of Hannibal.

He spoke with a Roman accent, but his movements and dress, and the elegant way he handled his pipe, made him seem more English than Italian. The new chief inspector became an instant celebrity when, on a popular news program, he fixed his Ray-Bans on the camera and spoke directly to the Monster in firm but not unsympathetic tones.

Inspector Perugini wiped the slate clean. He started with the axiom that the gun and bullets had somehow passed out of the hands of the Sardinians, and that the Monster was unconnected to the clan killing. The forensic examination of the crime scenes had been spectacularly incompetent: What forensic evidence was collected—a knee print, a bloody rag, a partial fingerprint—was never properly analyzed, and, infuriatingly, some had been allowed to spoil.

Perugini viewed this evidence with skepticism; he was smitten by the idea of solving the crime with computers. He examined tens of thousands of men in Tuscany, punching in various criteria—convictions for sex crimes, propensity for violence, past prison sentences—and winnowed down the results. The search eventually fingered a sixty-nine-year-old Tuscan farmer named Pietro Pacciani, an alcoholic brute of a man with thick arms and a short, blunt body who had been convicted of sexually assaulting his daughters.

His prison sentence coincided with the gap in killings between and And he was violent: Inspector Perugini had his suspect; all that remained was to gather evidence. This statement, he felt, linked Pacciani to the Monster, who had amputated the left breast of two of his victims.

The haul was pretty disappointing, but on the twelfth day, just as the operation was winding down, Perugini announced with great fanfare that he had found an unfired. Not long afterward, the Carabinieri received a piece of a. When the two rags were compared, they matched up. Pacciani was arrested on January 16, , and charged with being the Monster of Florence. The public, by and large, approved of his arrest.

Spezi, however, remained unconvinced. He felt that a drunken, semiliterate peasant given to fits of rage could not possibly have committed the meticulous crimes he had seen. Spezi continued to feel that the Sardinian investigation had been prematurely closed.

He laid out his views in a series of carefully reasoned articles, but few readers were persuaded: This was melodrama worthy of Puccini. Thomas Harris attended the trial, taking notes in longhand on yellow legal pads. The prosecutors presented no murder weapon and no reliable eyewitnesses. Pacciani was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

During the mandatory appeal, the prosecutor assigned to handle the case did something almost unheard of: On February 13, , Pacciani was acquitted.

A higher court sent the case back to be retried, but Pacciani died in February , before the new trial could begin. The judge refused to allow them to testify, and excoriated the police for the last-minute maneuver. But the investigation was far from over, and eventually their story would emerge. The man made many odd claims and contradicted himself continually. He implicated a third man, and the two men were convicted, in a subsequent trial, of murder; one was sentenced to life in prison and the other to twenty-six years.

Thus began the investigation that remains open to this day: But Pacciani denied the whole story to his dying day. With the death of Pacciani and the conviction of his accomplices, the investigation receded into the shadows. Most people felt the case had been solved, and Florence moved on. And perhaps it was just as well.

For over time, thread by thread, the web of evidence began to unravel.

The rag and gun pieces were found to have been a manufactured clue, although by whom was not established. The television station refused to air the segment; Spezi published the allegation—and was promptly sued for libel. He won the case, but not without further antagonizing the Squadra anti-Mostro and its boss.

Spezi was by now exhausted—by the case, which he had covered for more than fifteen years, and by the grueling life of a crime correspondent. Brother Galileo had urged him to quit his job. La Nazione agreed to keep him on a freelance contract. It would leave him time to fulfill a longtime dream of writing mystery novels, and to embark on his own counter-investigation, which became a hobby of sorts.

Around this time, Spezi received crucial help from a high-ranking official in the Carabinieri whose identity he has never revealed, not even to me.

This man was part of a group of officers who had continued a secret investigation into the killings after the Carabinieri officially withdrew from the case. His clandestine group had identified a possible suspect as the Monster, a man who had previously been arrested and released. Its conclusion was that the Monster was of a type well known to the FBI: The FBI report said that the Monster chose the places for his crimes, not the victims, and that he would kill only in familiar locations.

The murders had been committed in some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, over a large area encompassing the hills south, east, and north of Florence. The police had stared at pins in maps for years, never finding a pattern. He often talked about the case, and I began to share his frustration at its unsatisfying conclusion.