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The Monster of Florence - Douglas Preston I would probably recommend this book simply because it allows us to see the incredible way such an important investigation was bungled from the beginning and the view it gives of the Italian legal system. Anyone who became embroiled in this particular investigation should have been forewarned, “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here!”

OMG, too many people to keep up with: murder victims, investigators, possible perpetrators, witnesses and on and on. I listened to the audiobook, and maybe that’s why I had a hard time keeping all of the various people straight. It is pretty astounding how incompetent the police were in their investigations of the crimes. No crime scene was secured from media or bystanders except the last one. Then several men were accused and arrested for the crimes and a few even sent to prison. In no case was there was any real evidence to convict, but convicted they were.

Then when the new investigator, Guittari, came on board, the real witch hunts began. This man was determined to go after the smallest innuendo and make it into a case of conspiracy with dozens of people responsible either for the actual murders or hiding the murderers. It is truly scary how many people were targeted and accused of a part in the murders with no evidence whatsoever. Then there were the witnesses called Alpha, Beta, Delta and Gamma who supposedly recalled all kinds of events and people they claimed to see in the area of the crimes or committing the crimes themselves. It is unreal how these witnesses were allowed to testify about events that supposedly occurred more than 20 years before in some cases and absolutely none of it was credible.

I could not understand how the witch hunt was allowed to happen when it was well known to the press and to the country in general. It isn’t as if this was happening behind the scenes. Then Douglas Preston explained that Italy has a culture that is rather foreign to us in the US. An Italian man who became a friend to Preston explained to the author that this aspect of their culture is essentially a national pastime, second only to football, of engaging in one-upmanship with one’s friends. There is the idea that events that look straight forward on the surface are not and that there is always something secret going on beyond what the casual observer can see. And you want to be the person who can see behind the veil to what is really going on and who knows more than your friends know. The friend said that everyone in Italy assumes that the simplest answer to a problem cannot be the answer. So everyone in Italy knew that the most obvious person who could be The Monster of Florence could not possibly be the killer because there had to be much more going on.