Friday, December 24

The Monster of Florence

Possibly it's bad form to bring an audio book with you to the gym instead of music - instead of jogging along on the gerbil gym in upbeat silence, you may become prone to exclaiming aloud or laughing maniacally at random intervals. That said, having something fascinating to occupy your mind will certainly inspire you to stay put and keep working out so that you don't have to stop listening! In that event, allow me to suggest the following title.

Proof positive that truth is stranger than fiction, and an indelible reminder that real life mysteries often resist the tidy resolutions of cinema and crime novels to which the modern world has become accustomed, The Monster of Florence is a literary masterpiece not to missed.

Authors Preston and Spezi flood their pages with their shared passion for Florence, vividly bringing to life the place, its people and the history that envelopes and shapes their everyday lives. The first half of the book is a recounting of the Monster of Florence case, in which a serial killer (rare in Italy) murders 16 people over the course of twenty years as the police and journalists muddle their way through sickening crime scenes, a convoluted web of suspects and informants, and mountains of questionable and contradictory evidence. Fascinating twists, unbelievable turns and torrents of questions, answers and lies - all true and documented - capture and hold your attention from start to finish.

Possibly even stranger is the second half of the book, in which the authors find themselves sucked in to the very story they sought to write about - interrogated, arrested and defamed as accessories to the very crimes chronicled in the preceding pages. Escaping the trap they have fallen into becomes its own adventure, leaving readers with a great deal to reflect on and their own conclusions to draw. Although true crime is not a standard part of my repertoire, I was mesmerized by this story, and highly recommend picking up a copy for yourself.

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