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Book Review

‘The Monster of Florence’ an unsolved mystery


BOOK TMoFlorenceCourtesy of Beaverdale Books

Review by Harriet Leitch

Soho Crime

Oct. 1, 2013



345 pp.

Magdalen Nabb was an expatriate Englishwoman who settled in Italy in 1975 and enjoyed success as an author of crime novels and children’s books. She published a series of 14 books featuring Marshal Guarnaccia of the Carabinieri. The Monster of Florence, based on true crimes committed around Florence, was published in the United Kingdom in 1999 but not in the United States until now. This book is a posthumous publication, as the author died in 2007.

The real Monster of Florence committed a series of murders of lovers from 1968 to 1985. Nabb’s story takes place many years after the crimes ceased and features Marshal Guarnaccia as part of a team of police and (military police) created to support a prosecutor in his quest to charge and convict a suspect. Guarnaccia becomes very doubtful that the suspect, despite his despicable character, is the perpetrator of the crimes. Nabb takes the reader through the evidence in the form of reports as well as through the Guarnaccia’s thoughts and actions.

The story had hurdles to understanding the investigation. The Italian system of justice is very different from ours, and it can take a while to understand. Many actors (mainly other suspects) whose names and characters were very similar also made plot appearances. However, Nabb’s description of Florence and the surrounding area were vivid and put the reader in the places described.

It would be interesting to read the book of the same title by Douglas Preston, which is a narrative of the actual crimes. These crimes have never been solved, and Nabb left the identity of the criminal similarly up in the air. CV

Harriet Leitch retired to enjoy her grandchildren, garden, dogs, flute and to return to her love of books.

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