by Douglas J Preston

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Review

SPOILER ALERT!

As a successful crime novelist, Douglas Preston is very familiar with filling the pages of a book with the twists and turns it takes to make a good mystery.  To research his next book, he and his wife decide to move to Florence, Italy, taking their school-aged children with them.  After he and his wife get settled in their rented villa, meet the neighbors, and enroll the children in school, Mr. Preston sets an appointment with Mario Spezi, a well known journalist in the area.  He's hoping to learn about the local justice system.  In the course of conversation, Spezi learns Preston is staying in the villa next to a famous crime scene and begins to explain the details of the grisly scene and then the Monster of Florence, the notorious Florence serial killer.  It doesn't take long for Douglas to give up his original idea and take up a nonfiction project with Spezi as his writing partner. 

The gruesome murders committed by the Monster have ties to a double homicide dating back to 1968 and, over the next two decades the death toll comes to 16. Police have created, dismantled, and recreated special task forces dedicated to solving this string of murder mysteries. With each new lead investigator new theories, fresh suspects, and more arrests take place.  It's not until Preston and Spezi find themselves caught in the middle of the latest speculations that things get a little more exciting than either of them bargained for. Preston is indicted for obstruction of justice, perjury, planting evidence, and a host of other unexplained charges and Spezi, well, he is arrested, accused of being the monster, himself.  

This is an extremely detailed and engaging account of both the murders and the political manipulation of Florence's legal system to dissuade Preston & Spezi from offering opinions that differ from the official investigators that might prove embarrassing.  I listened to this book on CD while commuting to work.  This may have been a mistake on my part.  With all the details and so many players over an extended period of time and my lack of familiarity with Italian names, it was difficult for me to keep everyone straight every once in a while. It was ironic though as I neared the end of the book and came to the part where chief Examining Magistrate of Perugia, Giuliano Mignini, makes his case for a cannibalistic, satanic cult pressing for a confession from Prestion and arresting Spezi I thought of another, more recent Italian murder case.  Let's see if you figure it out before turning to Google.

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