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

4.1 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
Book 10 of 14 in the A Florentine Mystery Series

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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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Product Details

  • Series: A Florentine Mystery (Book 10)
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Soho Crime; 1St Edition edition (October 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616953241
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616953249
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,268,726 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is definitely a book for confirmed followers of Marshal Guarnaccia. It really should not be considered part of the series for several reasons, some of which make this book maddening and some which will delight and satisfy those with a desire to see more clearly into the Marshal's soul.

Delight and satisfy, this is what the avid Guarnaccia fan can expect in the countless bits and hints concerning the Marshal's psyche. They are interspersed throughout the book and are illuminating and priceless. I found the most angst producing moment in the book is when the Marshal misinterprets the remarks he overhears his superior and friend making about the reason he was chosen for this plum assignment without spoiling it , it occurs approximately 75% through the book. There are the usual problems and fears the Marshal has about his career which make he oh so human. However, a caveat, if you have not read at least one previous book in the series you will not appreciate it . Hence my claim that this should not be part of the series but an addendum.

Now of course we come to the problem that I have with the book and that is structure. I find the sections of past police reports to be not illuminating and indeed a hindrance to the flow of the story line. The reasoning for them seems to be only to cause convolutions. The cast of characters is also confusing to say the least but I realize that it does require to pay more attention to detail then a reader might want to put out ( call me slothful). Also unpleasant and evil as these sundry characters are, they do not really grab and assault you attentions. The leitmotif of a stolen painting and its outcome seem a little contrived but I found it to be satisfying since I come to this book with having read the entire series. As I said, nothing really new here but an enjoyable trip through the world of Marshal Guarnaccia.
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