The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi
Between 1968 and 1985 in the province of Florence, Italy, a serial killer, dubbed the Monster of Florence murdered eight couples and as part of the signature slayings removed female victims’ organs.

Italian journalist Mario Spezi and American crime novelist Douglas Preston, who moved to Italy in 2000, tell the story of the Monster of Florence’s investigations and prosecutions that flow from the murders. That a single weapon, a Baretta .22, ties the cases together is in and of itself intriguing under the circumstances, which won’t be gone into because that would reveal too much.

Equally fascinating are the author’s accounts of the workings of the Italian justice system that leads to even one of the authors getting charged with a crime. The authors at one point comment on the Italian system as follows:

“During that time I (Preston) began to understand my own obsession with the Monster case. In twenty years of writing thrillers involving murder and violence, I had tried and largely failed to understand evil at its core. The Monster of Florence attracted me because it was a road into the wilderness. The case was the purest distillation of evil I had ever encountered, on many levels. It was, first of all, the evil of the depraved killings of a highly disturbed human being. But the case was about other kinds of evil as well. Some of the top investigators, prosecutors, and judges in the case, charged with the sacred responsibility of finding the truth, appeared to be more interested in using the case to leverage their power to greater personal glory. . .” Amanda Knox & Raffaele Sollecito

The case has a Seattle connection because the prosecutor of Amanda Knox, a Seattleite who is also an alum of the University of Washington, was also a prosecutor in the Monster of Florence case. Amanda Knox has been on trial because the prosecutors claim that she and her ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito killed Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy. Prosecutors accuse Knox of murdering during a sex game that went wrong. Currently the trial is in recess and the verdict is expected next year.

The Monster of Florence reads like a fast paced novel and gives insight into the justice or, more appropriately described – injustice system in Italy.