Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Monster of Florence

"Many countries have a serial killer who defines his culture by a process of negation, who exemplifies his era not by exalting its values, but by exposing its black underbelly. England had Jack the Ripper, born in the fogs of Dickensian London, who preyed on the city's most neglected underclass, the prostitutes who scrabbled for a living in the slums of Whitechapel. Boston had the Boston Strangler, the suave, handsome killer who prowled the city's more elegant neighborhoods, raping and murdering elderly women and arranging their bodies in tableaux of unspeakable obscenity. Germany had the Montser of Dusseldorf, who seemed to foreshadow the coming of Hitler by his indiscriminate and sadistic killing of men, women, and children; his bloodlust was so great that, on the eve of his execution, he called his imminent beheading "the pleasure to end all pleasures." Each killer was, in his own way, a dark embodiment of his time and place.
Italy had the Monster of Florence." -The Monster of Florence, Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi (p. 24)

I apologize for such a long quote at the beginning of the post, but I always try to find one that best suites the tone and content of the book I am taking it from. This was it for this book. Not only does it tell you just how horrible this criminal was, by giving you examples he can be compared to, but it also shows you the level at which the story is told, Prestona dn Spezi do such a wonderful job at writing.

The Monster of Florence is the story of someone who went about the countryside killing young couples in their cars just after they had had sex (sorry for the bluntness, but I can't come up with a nice way of putting it). I won't go into details about the things that were done, you can discover that for yourself in a simple web search; but I will say that the book Hannibal was influenced by the Monster. The murders took place between 1974 and 1985, leaving fourteen dead, yet the killer has continued to elude the police to this day. Or so Spezi and Preston believe; as do I.

During the reading of this book I found myself frequently stopping to shake me head, groan, rant, and rave about the direction in which the case went. Not only was the collection and interpretation of the evidence simply horrendous, but simple truths that seem plain to everyone, went overlooked or simply ignored by those investigating the crimes. Instead of finding the killer, the police came up with insane conspiracy theories that would give truely crazy people a run for their money. These led to numerious wrongful convictions, ruining of people's lives, and the freedom of the true perpetrator of the crimes. It really is a shame, and it curdles my stomach to read about such a miscarriage of justice in today's world.

That all being said, the story itself was an interesting one. Reading about Spezi's pursuit of the truth from the day he caught the story in June of 1981, up until the present when he has been accused not only of trying to derail the investigation with his journalism, but also of being the killer himself, was enjoying a wild ride. The story if truly outrageous! And it is so well written by the amazing Spezi and Preston. Even though the facts made me sick, I was pulled along through the events by the wonderful writing.

I highly recommend that anyone that is interested in true crime give this book a look. Or if you like the writing of Preston, this is a great way to learn a little more about what the writer has been through over the years. Or if you are just looking for something non-fiction to read that has to do with the evils of the world. For so many this can be a great read, and I encourage all of you to give the book a chance, you might be surprised to find that you like it, even if it is not normally what you would read.

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