London had Jack the Ripper, Boston had the Boston Strangler and Florence had the Monster of Florence. Less well known in the United States than the other two, the Monster of Florence terrorized the city of Florence preying on young lovers in parked cars from 1974 to 1985. Despite the longest manhunt in Italian history, the Monster has never been found. Thomas Harris is thought to have based his famous character Hannibal Lector after the Monster.

This true story begins when Douglas Preston, a mystery writer, moves his family to Florence, a city he loves, to write a fictional novel. He meets with Mario Spezi, a renowned journalist to learn more about the Italian legal system. After Mario shares with him the story of the monster that he has been covering for 25 years, Douglas and Mario decide to write a book about this crime and the legal proceedings surrounding it.

However, when their interpretation of the evidence differs from the prosecuting attorney and the judge, they surprisingly find themselves on the other side of the law. Douglas and his family are forced to flee Italy and Mario is arrested for Obstruction of Justice as he presented evidence on an Italian TV show similar to the US 48 Hours about the fallacies in the government’s case. He was eventually released by the Tribunal of Reexamination.

What is fascinating and at the same time terrifying about this case is that Mignini, the Public Minister who brought the charges against Spezi, is the same one who is currently prosecuting Amanda Knox, the American girl who went to Italy as a foreign exchange student and is accused of killing her roommate. Mignini is currently using the same Satanic Cult theory, provided in a blog by Gabriella Carlizzi. Currently Mignini is under indictment for abuse of power and conflict of interest, but he is still being allowed to try the Amanda Knox case. Please view the attached video to see Douglas Preston discuss on 48 Hour Mystery the similarities between the cases.

As with Preston’s other bestselling novels, “The Monster of Florence” is a thriller recounting a story of sex, murder, mutilation, suicide and vengeance. You learn about Florence, its history, its people and beauty and the problems with the legal system there. It is particularly timely in that the same prosecutors are attempting to use a very similar story in the Amanda Knox case which is currently being tried. I couldn’t put the book down once I got started. I have shared information about the book with almost everyone that I meet. While I admit, I do like to talk about books; I have found this one to have really intrigued me as it is true and has a current twist to it.

I strongly recommend this book.

Five Stars out of Five.