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The Monster of Florence (A Florentine Mystery) Hardcover – October 1, 2013


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Product Details

  • Series: A Florentine Mystery
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Soho Crime; 1St Edition edition (October 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616953241
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616953249
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #939,339 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Nabb’s death, in 2007, left a serious hole in the roster of A-list mystery writers, and the publication of a posthumous novel starring her series hero, Marshal Guarnaccia, of the Florence Carabinieri, is a welcome event for all fans of international crime fiction. The novel, originally published in the UK in 1999, has curiously never appeared in the U.S. It’s an odd book in some ways, based on a real-life serial killer, the Monster of Florence, whose reign of terror lasted more than 20 years and who may or may not have been apprehended. Guarnaccia, assigned to a cold-case squad tasked with reopening the still-unsolved murders, spends much of the book reading files (and the marshal is not a reader by nature) and mulling over not only whether the suspect being investigated is in fact the killer but also why he was chosen for the task force. The reliance on so many secondary sources, though no doubt fascinating to those who know the real-life case, tends to slow the narrative flow, but, fortunately, there is more than enough of Guarnaccia’s Columbo-like mix of bumbling and shrewdness to please fans. --Bill Ott

Review

Praise for The Monster of Florence

"One of Nabb's darkest novels, almost shocking in its disenchanted acknowledgment of human brutality."
—The New York Times Book Review

"The late Magdalen Nabb never wrote a bad book.... She’s well worth discovering by a new generation of readers... [Monster of Florence] is one of the best of her works and readers can revel in the streets, sounds, smells of Florence."
—The Globe and Mail

“It is so good to walk with [Magdalen Nabb] through the animated streets of Florence, with its carabinieri, its ordinary people, its little trattorie and even its noisy tourists. It's all so alive, you can hear the noises, smell the smells, see that morning mist on the fast flowing Arno…. Bravissimo!”
—Georges Simenon

"Monster is powerful in its indirection and its presentation in a fictional context of the facts of a real and celebrated case.... It's both a very effective crime novel and something more than a crime novel."
—Glenn Harper, International Noir Fiction

"A haunting thriller where past and present collide, where ambition brutalizes those who have most need of compassion and where lies are often more credible than truth."
—Val McDermid 

"Nabb's account of the details is freshly horrifying.... The vicious, incestuous suspect is so vivid on the page that the reader feels the need of a shower after each of his many appearances."
—Donna Leon for the Sunday Times

“Fans who mourned [Nabb’s] death in 2007 will want this mystery.”
—Library Journal

"Nabb’s death, in 2007, left a serious hole in the roster of A-list mystery writers, and the publication of a posthumous novel starring her series hero, Marshal Guarnaccia, of the Florence Carabinieri, is a welcome event for all fans of international crime fiction."
—Booklist

Praise for Magdalen Nabb

"It takes a writer as good as Magdalen Nabb to remind us how subtle the art of the mystery can be."
New York Times

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kimberly L Leyden on October 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Magdalen Nabb was an English author who spent many years living in Italy. While there she wrote a series of books, the Marshal Guarnaccia series, based on a real marshal she met while living there. All the books in the series, except this one, were published in the United States and were well received. This book, only recently rediscovered, is being published in the United States for the first time. The book is based on a real crime, a series of double homicides that took place between 1968 and 1985. In this book, Marshal Guarnaccia is assigned to a special task forced that is reinvestigating the crimes. The prosecutor in charge of the task force has already decided who committed the crimes so his goal is to make the evidence fit the suspect. He is does not provide the task force with any information that does not support his conclusion. Guarnaccia is troubled by pieces that do not fit, even his dreams point to inconsistencies. He begins to review all the information he can even going back and re-interviewing witnesses. His approach reminds me of Colombo, slightly bumbling but very tenacious. He is determined to discover who the real killer and will not be able to let the investigation go until he does. If you are a fan of detective fiction Colombo style you will enjoy this book.

Disclosure: I received this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway on the premise that I would review it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I was initially surprised by this book's format and tone because I'd read some of Magdalen Nabb's earlier books--charming, small-town feeling procedural literary mysteries set near Florence in the 1980s. Although THE MONSTER OF FLORENCE contains the same level of setting detail, it is a much darker novel (I thought). The plot is a fictional interpretation of the prosecution of a suspect in the real-life Monster of Florence case (a serial killer who killed pairs of victims in the Florence metropolitan area in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, and who was never caught). This novel is unusual in its format because it incorporates police interviews and transcripts--fictionalized, but (supposedly) matching those of a real phase in the unsolved investigation--and as a result puts the graphic truth of the crimes in a plainspoken way that was new to me. I found the book a difficult but fascinating read. The case and procedural details are not easy to swallow, as they don't have any of the sugar-coating trappings we're used to in crime fiction. It was really interesting to learn about the movements of the Italian justice system and Catholic sexual and gender mores during this period.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ionia Martin TOP 500 REVIEWER on October 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I wasn't sure what to expect when I began this book. I love procedural books and true crime, so I thought this might be of great interest to me. Cold cases are almost always interesting as the characters have a chance to uncover lost leads and build a great story. This book was not as procedural as I would have expected.

This book had some likable qualities. Guarnaccia is a quirky, strange character at times, but a main character that can keep you interested. I liked the way the author displayed his thought processes and his personality.

One thing that threw me off a little in this story was the amount of suspects there were. I never really felt that I could connect well because just when I had an idea of whodunnit, there was another person trampling their way into the suspect pool. I do understand that in serial killer cases there often is a wide suspect list, but for this book, I just found it difficult to follow.

I thought it interesting, not necessarily good or bad but just interesting that the main character's dreams were so involved in the story. I almost wondered if he were going the psychic route for a while.

I did love the descriptions of Florence. Magdalen Nabb really made the setting an easy one to admire. There is some pretty graphic material involved in this novel, so if that bothers you then you should be forewarned that it may not be for you.

Overall, this was different. It wasn't what I had expected and often those are the books that I remember later.

This review is based on a paper copy that I received as a first reads winner from Goodreads and the publisher.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ray J. Palen Jr. VINE VOICE on January 9, 2014
Format: Hardcover
This novel was initially released in 1996 and has been re-released now for two reasons. The first of which is the fact that the author, Magdalen Nabb, passed away in 2007 and it is an opportunity to continue having her work presented to a new legion of readers.

The second reason is the recent revival in this true crime cold case that has brought about a non-fiction novel (with the same title) that was co-written by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi. That book has garnered interest from Hollywood and a film is speculated to be made starring George Clooney in the role of Doug Preston!

The Monster Of Florence was the Jack the Ripper of Italy having been charged with seven double homicides between 1968 and 1985. There were many other murders that could have possibly been committed by this individual but local law enforcement has been unable to prove any of that. Actually, they have not been able to prove anything and this remains the most infamous cold case in Italian history.

Along comes Magdalen Nabb attempting to put a fictional spin on this case. Her recurring crime series that featured Marshal Guarnaccia is the perfect outlet for a speculative novel about the famed Monster of Florence. Like the actual officials following this case, Guarnaccia seems to be foiled at every turn and is surprised when his Director assigns him the task of reopening an old cold case such as this one.

The novel contains many court transcripts and internal communications that reviewed the various suspects in this case --- and there are a lot of them. Nabb blends both fictional and non-fictional suspects to present a case for Guarnaccia that appears overwhelming for anyone to solve.
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