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If you’re a fan of gripping true crime stories, then “The Monster of Florence” by Douglas Preston with Mario Spezi is a must-read. The book chronicles the chilling events that took place in Florence, Italy, during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

In this audiobook review, we’ll take an in-depth look at “The Monster of Florence,” exploring its plot, characters, themes, and overall experience. Whether you’re a seasoned true-crime enthusiast or a curious newcomer to the genre, join us as we delve into this riveting tale.

Key Takeaways

  • “The Monster of Florence” is a gripping true crime story set in Italy.
  • The audiobook version is an excellent way to experience the book’s chilling narrative.
  • The authors, Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi, take an investigative approach to the story, providing a unique spin on the true crime genre.
  • The book explores themes such as justice, obsession, and the impact of crime on society.
  • Readers interested in true crime stories will find “The Monster of Florence” to be an engaging and thought-provoking read.

Overview of “The Monster of Florence”

“The Monster of Florence” is an enthralling true crime book written by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi. The book takes place in Florence, Italy, where a serial killer terrorized the city for over a decade. The book’s genre falls under true crime, a non-fiction literary genre that focuses on real-life crime events.

The book provides readers with a unique perspective on the investigation of the case, delving into the authors’ experience working on the story. Preston and Spezi’s hands-on approach to the case allows readers to gain a better understanding of the challenges, complexities, and psychological aspects of a long-term serial killer investigation. The book also provides insight into Italian culture, language, and customs.

If you are a true crime enthusiast or love to read investigative books, “The Monster of Florence” is a must-read.

Plot Summary

“The Monster of Florence” is a true crime book written by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi that details a 16-year killing spree in Italy’s rustic countryside. The story begins in 1974 when a young couple is found murdered while parked in a secluded area. Over the next few years, several other couples are killed, and police struggle to solved the cases due to a lack of evidence.

The book revolves around Preston’s and Spezi’s five-year investigation into the murders and their quest to uncover the identity of the elusive “Monster” responsible for the gruesome crimes. As the investigation progresses, the authors encounter several obstacles, including corruption within the police department and the Italian justice system.

Throughout the book, the authors uncover a web of conspiracy, deceit, and cover-ups while delving into the fascinating history of Florence and its surroundings. The main characters involved in the investigation are fleshed out, and readers witness the toll the case takes on their lives. The central mystery surrounding the “Monster” and their motives is slowly unraveled in a captivating and thrilling way.

Writing Style and Narration

Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi’s collaborative effort delves into the gruesome and complex true crime story of “The Monster of Florence” with a gripping writing style that immediately hooks readers. Preston and Spezi take a meticulous approach to research, evident in their detailed descriptions and thorough analysis of the case.

Despite the book’s compelling content, some readers may find the writing style too dry or technical at times, lacking emotional depth and dramatic flair. This, in turn, impacts the narration of the audiobook version, which follows the same patterns and struggles to capture the story’s suspense and intrigue without getting bogged down by the factual details.

Nonetheless, the duo’s partnership adds value to the overall narration, particularly when they take turns sharing their viewpoints and experiences throughout the investigation. The audiobook version also benefits from engaging performances by narrators Dennis Boutsikaris and Rick Adamson, who bring the characters to life with distinct voices and apt intonations.

In conclusion, while “The Monster of Florence” excels in content, at times, its writing style and narration may lack the necessary emotional depth and dramatic flair to fully engage listeners.

Historical Context

Understanding the historical context surrounding the events in “The Monster of Florence” provides a deeper appreciation for the gravity of the crimes. The book primarily focuses on a real-life serial killer who committed a string of murders between 1968 and 1985 in the Florence area of Italy. These gruesome crimes traumatized the local community and sparked one of the most extensive investigations in Italian history.

During the time of the murders, Italy was undergoing significant political turmoil, with social instability and left-wing terrorism on the rise. The crimes happened against this backdrop, creating a high level of anxiety and fear in the public. The Italian police force, lacking the structure and resources to handle such cases, had to seek external investigative assistance.

The investigation had an enormous impact on the Florence area, leading to mistrust in the government and law enforcement. Despite several arrests and trials, the killer was never conclusively identified, leaving the case unsolved. The “Monster of Florence” case is still considered one of Italy’s most notorious unsolved crimes, and its impact on the country remains to this day.

Characters and Their Development

“The Monster of Florence” explores a complex network of characters whose lives intersect in the pursuit of justice. The authors, Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi, skillfully develop each character, providing readers with a unique insight into their motivations, relationships, and personalities.

One of the central characters in the book is the “Monster” himself, an elusive serial killer who terrorized Florence for over a decade. Preston and Spezi delve into the psyche of this mysterious figure, crafting a truly chilling portrayal of his actions and thought processes.

Another pivotal character is the author, Preston, who becomes deeply involved in the investigation and ultimately drives the narrative forward. His personal journey, including his interactions with the Italian justice system, adds a compelling layer to the book.

Additionally, Preston and Spezi explore the impact of the case on the local community, introducing a range of characters with varying degrees of involvement. From grieving families to determined investigators, each character serves a unique purpose in the story.

characters and their development

True Crime Elements

“The Monster of Florence” is a book that perfectly embodies the true crime genre, offering a fascinating look at a notorious serial killer case that plagued Italy for decades. Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi’s meticulous approach to the investigation distinguishes this book from other examples of true crime documentary.

The authors used several elements of true crime storytelling in their work. They based their research on numerous primary sources, such as police records and court transcripts, to piece together the intricate details of the case. Additionally, they incorporated interviews with key players in the investigation, including surviving family members of the victims and law enforcement officials.

One of the most striking elements of the authors’ approach is the use of forensic evidence. They explore the various scientific techniques used to analyze the crime scenes and the collected evidence, creating a vivid and precise picture of the crime scenes. The authors effectively used the evidence to help illustrate the killer’s pattern and behaviours.

The Impact on the Genre of True Crime

The success of “The Monster of Florence” has had a far-reaching effect on the genre of true crime. It has set a high standard for research, accuracy and storytelling. Preston and Spezi’s have seamlessly combined fact with dramatization of the events. It is a masterclass in how true crime should be written.

Atmosphere and Setting

Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi excel at creating a gritty, visceral atmosphere in “The Monster of Florence.” Through their vivid descriptions, readers are transported to the lush countryside of Tuscany and the dark streets of Florence, where the gruesome murders take place.

The authors establish a sense of place that is both captivating and eerie. Their attention to detail adds to the overall ambiance of the story, immersing readers in the world of the investigation. The use of real-life locations also adds to the authenticity of the narrative, making it all the more unsettling.

The setting of “The Monster of Florence” is an integral part of the story, as it mirrors the dark underbelly of the city itself. Through their descriptive writing, Preston and Spezi capture the essence of Florence and its history, painting a picture of a city that is both beautiful and wicked.

Themes Explored

In “The Monster of Florence,” Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi weave a complex narrative that explores a range of themes that provide insights into Italian culture, society, and human behavior. These themes showcase an in-depth exploration of subjects such as:

  • Justice: The book details the long and complex investigation of the Italian authorities, highlighting the difficulties they encounter while trying to solve the case. The authors emphasize the importance of justice for the victims and their families, punishing the perpetrators, and the challenges of obtaining it in a corrupt system.
  • Obsession: The book portrays how the investigation takes over the lives of the investigators, causing them to become obsessed. The authors showcase the negative impact that this obsession can have on personal and professional relationships, ultimately leading to failure and disappointment.
  • The Impact of Crime on Society:The story emphasizes the impact that crime can have on society, specifically on the community of Florence. The authors showcase the fear, paranoia, and distrust that emerge, which further exacerbates the situation.

By exploring these themes, the book transforms into a multifaceted exploration of the human condition that will resonate with readers familiar with true crime and those fascinated by Italian culture and society.

Audiobook Experience

Listening to “The Monster of Florence” audiobook was a thrilling experience. The quality of narration was impeccable, with clear enunciation and a consistent pace that kept us engaged throughout.

The team of narrators expertly brought the various characters to life, each with their unique tone and cadence. The use of sound effects and music also enhanced the listening experience, creating a vivid atmosphere that transported us to the heart of the story.

The pacing of the audiobook was well-crafted, allowing for the tension and suspense to build gradually without feeling rushed. Additionally, the use of chapter breaks and pauses created natural stopping points for breaks or reflection without disrupting the flow of the narrative.

Overall, the audiobook experience of “The Monster of Florence” was exceptional. It provided us with an immersive and gripping way to experience the true crime story, and we highly recommend it to anyone looking for a thrilling listening experience.

Audience Reception and Reviews

Since its publication, “The Monster of Florence” has garnered widespread attention from readers and critics alike. A quick search of online bookstores and forums reveals a plethora of reviews and ratings, providing valuable insight into the reception of the book.

The majority of reviewers seem to agree that “The Monster of Florence” is a gripping and compelling read, with many praising the authors for their meticulous research and attention to detail. The use of real-life crimes and investigations adds an extra layer of intrigue, making it a must-read for true crime enthusiasts.

However, there are also some criticisms leveled against the book. Some readers express frustration at the slow pacing and excessive detail, while others argue that the narrative jumps around too much, making it difficult to follow at times.

Overall, it is clear that “The Monster of Florence” has left a lasting impression on readers, with many citing it as one of the best true crime books of all time. The varied opinions and perspectives on the book only serve to highlight its impact and significance within the genre.


“The Monster of Florence” by Douglas Preston with Mario Spezi is a gripping true crime story that delves into the unsolved case of a notorious Italian serial killer. The book provides a thorough overview of the events, characters involved, and the central mystery presented.

The writing style of the authors and the narration in the audiobook version are excellent, creating an engaging and atmospheric listening experience. The true crime elements are well-presented, and the authors’ investigative approach is admirable.

The historical context is well-researched and provides valuable insight into the impact of the crimes on the local community and Italian society as a whole. The characters are well-developed, and their motivations and relationships are explored in-depth.

The themes of justice, obsession, and the impact of crime on society are thought-provoking and provide a deeper meaning to the narrative. The atmosphere and setting are well-established, providing a vivid sense of place and ambiance.

The audiobook experience is enjoyable, with high-quality narration and pacing that keeps the listener engaged throughout. Audience reception and reviews are generally positive, with readers praising the gripping storytelling and attention to detail.

In conclusion, “The Monster of Florence” is an excellent true crime book that provides a compelling narrative, well-developed characters, and thoughtful themes. We highly recommend it to readers interested in the genre and audiobook enthusiasts looking for an immersive listening experience.


What is "The Monster of Florence" about?

“The Monster of Florence” is a true crime book written by Douglas Preston with Mario Spezi. It explores the chilling story of a serial killer who terrorized the countryside of Florence, Italy, and the decades-long investigation to catch him.

Who are the authors of "The Monster of Florence"?

“The Monster of Florence” is written by Douglas Preston, an accomplished author known for his thrilling novels and non-fiction works, and Mario Spezi, an Italian journalist who extensively covered the case during his career.

What genre does "The Monster of Florence" belong to?

“The Monster of Florence” belongs to the true crime genre. It provides a detailed account of real-life crimes and investigations, offering readers a glimpse into the darker side of humanity and the pursuit of justice.

Can you provide a brief plot summary of "The Monster of Florence"?

“The Monster of Florence” follows the intense investigation into a series of brutal murders in Florence, Italy. The narrative unravels the mystery surrounding these crimes, delving into the mind of a relentless killer and the relentless pursuit to bring him to justice.

What is the writing style in "The Monster of Florence" like?

The writing style in “The Monster of Florence” is engaging and gripping. Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi skillfully combine investigative reporting with compelling storytelling, ensuring that readers are fully immersed in the shocking events.

How does the audiobook version of "The Monster of Florence" enhance the reading experience?

The audiobook version of “The Monster of Florence” adds an extra layer of immersion to the story. The quality of narration brings the characters and events to life, enabling listeners to visualize the scenes and experience the suspense firsthand.

What is the historical context of "The Monster of Florence"?

“The Monster of Florence” is set against the backdrop of real-life murders that occurred in Florence. The book delves into the historical and cultural aspects of the city, exploring the impact these crimes had on the community and the larger societal implications.

Are there any notable themes explored in "The Monster of Florence"?

“The Monster of Florence” touches on several thought-provoking themes, such as the pursuit of justice, the nature of obsession, and the devastating consequences of crime. The book invites readers to contemplate the complexities of human behavior and societal norms.

What are some of the main characters in "The Monster of Florence"?

“The Monster of Florence” features a cast of intriguing characters, including investigators, journalists, and witnesses. They all play a crucial role in unraveling the mystery of the serial killer, each with their own motivations and impact on the narrative.

How does "The Monster of Florence" incorporate true crime elements?

“The Monster of Florence” is a prime example of true crime storytelling. The authors meticulously document the investigation, present evidence, and provide insights into the criminal mind. The book offers readers an inside look into the world of crime and criminal investigations.

What is the reception of "The Monster of Florence" among readers?

“The Monster of Florence” has garnered positive reviews from readers. Many praise the book for its meticulous research, captivating storytelling, and the ability to keep readers on the edge of their seats throughout the narrative.

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