On the Monster of Florence
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And now for a review from the venerable Times of London, which we have reproduced here almost in full for your delectation, written by the brilliant U.K. social critic Julian Clary.

The Monster of Florence: A True Story by Douglas Preston with Mario Spezi
The Times review by Julian Clary

"Twenty-odd years ago, while on holiday in Tuscany, I spent a pleasant couple of hours in the back of a Fiat with a handsome Italian man. It wasn't easy with my long legs, not to mention his short, hairy ones, but where there's a will there's a way. I remember the woods where he took me that night were chock-a-block with steamed-up cars: it's what young people do in Roman Catholic countries if they want some privacy. Only now do I realise what danger I was in: between 1974 and 1985 seven young couples were brutally murdered as they had sex in their cars in the hills surrounding Florence. It could have been me. The murderer has never been found.

The Monster of Florence tells us of these gruesome murders and a lot more besides. It all gets very complicated and if this was one of his bestselling novels, Douglas Preston's editor would no doubt have told him to stop being so ridiculous. But he couldn't, because, remarkably, it all happened.

I'll do my best to explain but you'll never follow it. In 1999 Preston, an American, moved to Florence with his wife and two young children to write a book about a lost painting of Masaccio. Since it was to be a murder mystery he felt the need to learn all about Italian police procedure and murder investigation. Along comes Mario Spezi, a Tuscan crime reporter who smokes incessantly and gulps espressos down in one. So far, so good. Unfortunately, Spezi starts telling Preston about il Monstro di Florenze [sic], on which Thomas Harris based Hannibal Lecter, and the pair of them start sniffing around the story. The novel about Masaccio, which I had been rather looking forward to, is forgotten, and suddenly we're drowning in a sea of false leads, corrupt officials, spurious charges, satanic sects, switched bodies and endless theories. Gave me quite a headache. Then there is the list of Italian names to keep tabs on: Carmignani, Perugini, Pacciani, Minoliti, Narducci, Carlizzi and so on. It's not Preston's fault, of course, but it's a shame the monster didn't move to Essex and kill a few people there. It would have been a lot easier to follow… This is a gripping read but copies of the book should come with a free packet of Nurofen Plus. "



Douglas Preston says:

"I am glad to present the following link so that readers can meet the actual reviewer, Mr. Julian Clary, himself.


Good show, London Times! Thank you for the most original review a book of mine has ever received. The Times tells me Julian Clary’s next review is of the exciting new translation of Hegel’s Wissenschaft der Logik. I sent Julian a case of Nurofen Plus and I am breathlessly awaiting the review. "


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