The Monster of Florence - A True Story
In the tradition of John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City, Douglas Preston weaves a captivating account of crime and punishment in the lush hills of Florence, Italy.
Douglas Preston fulfilled a lifelong dream when he moved with his family to a villa in Florence. Upon meeting celebrated journalist Mario Spezi, Preston was stunned to learn that the olive grove next to his home had been the scene of a horrific double murder committed by one of the most infamous figures in Italian history. A serial killer who ritually murdered fourteen young lovers, he has never been caught. He is known as the Monster of Florence.
Fascinated by the tale, Preston began to work with Spezi on the case. Here is the true story of their search to uncover and confront the man they believe is the Monster. In an ironic twist of fate that echoes the dark traditions of the city’s bloody history, Preston and Spezi themselves became targets of a bizarre police investigation.
With the gripping suspense of Preston’s bestselling novels, THE MONSTER OF FLORENCE tells a remarkable and harrowing chronicle of murder, mutilation, suicide, and vengeance—with Preston and Spezi caught in the middle.
Mario Spezi, a highly decorated journalist, has covered many of the most important criminal cases in Italy, including those involving terrorism and the Mafia, and has been investigating the Monster of Florence case since its beginning. He has also published both fiction and nonfiction books in Italy and several other countries.
We asked Natalino Mele what he remembered of the night of August 21, 1968, when his mother was murdered. The question set him off.
“I was six years old!” he cried. He had been so terrified he couldn’t speak at all, until his carabinieri interrogators threatened to take him back to his dead mother. As Natalino spoke of the merciless questioning, his voice filled with anguish. “I told them I couldn’t remember anything. Anything. Except one thing. There is one thing I remembered!” He paused, drawing in breath. “I opened my eyes in that car and I saw, in front of me, my mamma—dead. That’s the only thing I remember of that night. And,” he said, his voice breaking, “that’s the only memory I have of her now.”
—From THE MONSTER OF FLORENCE