The most memorable scene captures the collateral damage every murder inflicts.... Preston is indeed a stranger in a strange land.... Hard as this book is on the Italian legal system, a deep love for Italy, Italians and Italian culture permeates it. Particularly on the part of Preston, who often sounds like a man locked out of paradise.
Seattle Post Intelligencer
One of the most fascinating criminal cases in recent memory.... A vivid look at a largely close society, with elaborate mores and convoluted history, and a Byzantine justice system to match.... The perfect summer page turner—enough grim details to satisfy those fascinated with serial killer lore, enough twists and turns to engross those who are drawn to police procedures, as well as a chilling story of what happens when a writer becomes identified with a murder investigation in the eyes of the authorities.
New Orleans Time-Picayune
Remarkable true-crime story...passionately describes the investigations gone wrong.... Preston knows how to load his storytelling with intriguing evidence and damning details. His feverish style keeps the reader turning with the hope of uncovering the killer's identity.
As taut and tense as any of the author's bestselling thrillers...fascinating, stomach-churning...nerve-tingling action and vivid writing...The Monster of Florence is a gripping tale, filled with shocking crimes, boldly drawn characters, and the careening suspense of the ultimate whodunit.
Dallas Morning News
(Starred review.) United in their obsession with a grisly Italian serial murder case almost three decades old, thriller writer Preston (coauthor, Brimstone) and Italian crime reporter Spezi seek to uncover the identity of the killer in this chilling true crime saga. From 1974 to 1985, seven pairs of lovers parked in their cars in secluded areas outside of Florence were gruesomely murdered. When Preston and his family moved into a farmhouse near the murder sites, he and Spezi began to snoop around, although witnesses had died and evidence was missing. With all of the chief suspects acquitted or released from prison on appeal, Preston and Spezi's sleuthing continued until ruthless prosecutors turned on the nosy pair, jailing Spezi and grilling Preston for obstructing justice. Only when Dateline NBC became involved in the maze of mutilated bodies and police miscues was the authors' hard work rewarded. This suspenseful procedural reveals much about the dogged writing team as well as the motives of the killers. Better than some overheated noir mysteries, this bit of real-life Florence bloodletting makes you sweat and think, and presses relentlessly on the nerves.
In 2000, Preston, the best-selling coauthor of thrillers with Lincoln Child (e.g., The Relic) moved to Florence, Italy, to research a new mystery and fell headlong into the case of the Monster of Florence. Between 1968 and 1985, seven couples had been murdered in their cars in secluded lovers' lanes in and around Florence. (The murders took place near Preston's 14th-century farmhouse.) Intrigued, Preston teamed up with Italian journalist and "Monsterologist" Spezi to write an article-and became part of the story. The investigation of these serial murders had taken on a surreal edge, with wild conspiracy theories involving satanic cults being seriously considered by desperate investigators. At one point, Spezi himself was accused of the murders, while Preston was accused of planting evidence and even suspected of being an American spy. Eventually, the authors came to believe they knew the identity of the Monster, but nothing has been proven. Truth is truly stranger than fiction, as lives are destroyed, reputations are ruined, and evidence is manufactured to fit the suspect-of-the-month. Preston fans and true-crime fans are sure to be riveted. Recommended for public libraries.
Talk about your knotty true-crime situations! Officially, the investigation “grinds on with no end in sight,” having claimed one more victim—Spezi’s peace of mind. — Mike Tribby
Meticulous account of the collaboration between American thriller author Preston (Blasphemy, 2008, etc.) and Italian journalist Spezi to plumb a long-unsolved series of murders. Between 1974 and 1985, seven couples were killed while having sex in parked cars in the hills around Florence, Preston learned shortly after he moved to Italy in August 2000. One of those double homicides occurred in an olive grove next to the stone farmhouse he had just moved into with his family. Preston's informant was Spezi, who had covered the serial killings and dubbed their perpetrator "the Monster of Florence." Italian authorities had charged various men with one or more of the murders. Some had been brought to trial; one had been convicted but acquitted on appeal. Looking back to a seemingly unrelated killing in 1968, Spezi believed he had determined the identity of the actual killer, and Preston bought his theory. The pair began to write a book outlining their ideas, and the Italian authorities retaliated by harassing them. In February 2006, Preston was interrogated by a police captain who accused him and Spezi of planting false evidence, then essentially told the American to get out of Italy and not come back. Spezi was arrested on April 7, 12 days before Dolci Colline di Sangue was slated to be published, accused not only of obstructing justice but of somehow being involved in the Monster of Florence murders. Three weeks later, a judicial tribunal exonerated him of all charges and he was released. The police detective and prosecutor responsible for Preston's interrogation and Spezi's arrest, as well as mishandling the serial-killing investigation, are awaiting trial on charges of abuse of office. With so many characters and so many theories about the case, the book is sometimes difficult to follow, and Preston's flat prose does little to help. He is a likable narrator, however, and his commitment to untrammeled press freedom is inspiring. A cautionary saga about how the criminal-justice system can spin out of control.
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