The Strange Case of Douglas Preston


I am a huge fan of the Pendergast series written by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.  I own the book Relic and have watched the movie several times.  I also own Reliquary and The Cabinet of Curiosities.  I don’t know why I stopped reading the series, but when I started listening to audiobooks on Scribd, I grabbed all three of those to refresh my memory.

They were just as good as I remembered and I am now waiting for A Still Life of Crows to become available to me.  Since I read a lot of bestsellers, Scribd limits how many best selling authors I can listen to in a month, I think.  That’s the only reason I can think of for so many books to be unavailable today but available at a certain date next month.  I am listening to the Women’s Murder Club, the Pendergast Series, and several Dean Koontz books or trying to.  I keep getting stuck waiting for the “available” date. I’ll write about Scribd more in a different post.

Once I finished The Cabinet of Curiosities, Scribd recommended The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston.  It is a non-fiction book written by Douglas Preston.  I read it when it first came out and it documents Douglas Preston’s life in Italy…

The book titled is based on a serial killer that was active between 1968 and 1984 in Florence, Italy.  He killed couples that were having sex in their cars.  The murders are unsolved.  There’s been a lot of talk about how Italian police botched the investigation when it first started and just continued to screw it up.  For starters, they were unwilling to admit they had a serial killer, which is never a good way to go about a murder investigation.  It wasn’t until the late 1970s that they decided the cases were all tied together.

In the late 1990s as Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s books became bestsellers, Preston moved his entire family to Florence, Italy.  Preston said it was a dream come true.  He had always wanted to live in Italy.  The dream didn’t last long.  As Preston and a journalist began to investigate the monster of Florence killings, the Italian police began to investigate Preston and the journalist he was working with.  Eventually, they arrested Douglas Preston (who lived in the US at the time of the last murders and all the murders before then) as an accessory to murder.  The journalist was arrested for murder and accused of being the monster of Florence.

Eventually both men were released, but Preston was told he was not welcome in Italy anymore.  He was told to leave and he’s not even allowed to vacation there now.  Preston and the journalist even had a suspect in the killings and interviewed him.  The police vehemently deny the man could have been involved, which is kind of weird… but Italy has a very long history of botching murder investigations, corruption within the police, and not being very good at dealing with crime as a whole.  Interpol has been investigating the Italian justice system for years because several European countries have filed complaints against the Italian justice system.  In the early 2000s, a German tourist in Italy was mugged and stabbed multiple times by his mugger when he fought back and the Italian police arrested the German tourist for assault.  The German government had to intercede to get the man released from prison.  Just like the US government had to intercede to get Douglas Preston released from jail and Italy.

In 2007 or 2008, profilers with the Federal Bureau of Investigation wrote to the Italian government to say that the suspect identified by Douglas Preston and Mario Sperizi (the Italian investigative journalist that worked on the book with Douglas Preston and his name might be spelled wrong) in The Monster of Florence did indeed fit the profile and was worthy of investigation. The Italian justice department told them to butt out.  Several investigative journalists have made claims that the Florence Police Department and the Italian Justice System have always known who was responsible for the murders, but because he is rich, they won’t do anything to him.  Furthermore, before Mario Sperizi, other Italian journalists who have investigated the monster of Florence case have been put in jail and the Italian police are not above censorship.  Writing about the Italian police is done so at a journalists own risk – the police have been known to force newspapers to pull unfavorable articles, and they have ruined a few journalists’ careers for writing unfavorable articles about them.

Interestingly, Douglas Preston’s experience, actually helped bolster the position of the US when they intervened in the Amanda Knox case (Knox was accused and then convicted of killing her roommate as part of a Satanic sex ritual both Knox and her roommate were exchange students living in Italy at the time).  Knox was eventually acquitted of the crime by the Italian Supreme Court, but most people are still not happy with the verdict.  One day I will write a post on how we will never know what happened in the actual murder, since the Italian Supreme Court found that there was evidence tampering, witness tampering, failure to follow investigative procedure, and several other problems with the investigation into the murder for which Knox and her boyfriend (an Italian who has not been acquitted) were convicted.

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