Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Our Heroine, She Laughs (But Never About the Monster of Florence)

Project notwithstanding, I just finished The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi. My internal good-o-meter gave it a "v. good," ( I stayed up til 2:30 a.m. to finish it) and it was particularly interesting for me 'cuz it's from a genre I don't dabble in very often, True Crime.

The True Crime(s) in question are a series of murders in the Tuscan countryside between 1974 and 1985. In each murder, necking couples were first shot at close range, and then extra - ritualistic - knifing was done to the ladies.

The serial killings, Italy's first known (I think), obsessed the country and most of Europe, though they never got much attention in the U.S. The killer, who became known as The Monster of Florence, was never found.

In 2000, Douglas Preston, an American writer, moved to a villa outside Florence, only to discover that one of the murders had occurred in his olive grove. He and former Monster-reporter for La Nazione, Mario Spezi, decided to pursue the case as amateurs, following some leads Spezi thought had long been overlooked by the polizia. Little did they realize that they would ultimately end up indicted for conspiracy in the killings.

I feel about this book very much how I felt about the movie Zodiac. I truly enjoyed the story, especially following the investigations. I love "watching" detectives at work. BUT, I hate that neither crime gets solved. It leaves me, in my simplistic way, feeling at loose ends and disappointed. I know this is how things sometimes go in real life - more's the pity - but I believe that the unspoken promise of any mystery is that you get a solution at the end. If I want to read about crimes without justice, I have the newspapers. I know, I know, I am a textbook American who wants her endings neatly resolved. So what?! When did happy endings become anathema??!! (I need to go watch a musical now.)

So anyway, that was one big thing that really stood out for me with this book. The other? The Italian Polizia. Yikes. These were some of the biggest bunglers since the Keystone Cops. No, that's unfair to the Cops, who are like CSI: Ye Olde Tyme Hollywood in comparison to the Florentine police. I grant you that this was an unprecedented crime for them, and thus mistakes were bound to be made - but whoa. just whoa, people. They put a journalist in jail - for murder - because he dared to disagree with the direction of their investigation, and indicted another. That is gangsta, folks.

FBI? We don't need no stinkin' FBI!

I know this is not the most lively of my blog posts, but it feels weird to be lively over such a grim subject. BUT, I will share one more piece of advice with y'all. Lest you think I am some Brooklyn hillbilly who can't bear foreign films, I also watched Les rivières pourpres (The Crimson Rivers) earlier this week via Netflix. It is a French serial killer film. It is the Worst. I won't even describe it to you, it's so stupid. And it has Jean Reno in it, and Vincent Cassel, and I love them both, but oh, honey...NO. Ack. The dialogue was dreadful. The plot was ridiculous. Nothing made sense. I was laughing during serious scenes. I laughed during an autopsy. An autopsy! Je rigoles toujours! It was so bad. Don't watch it. Have I proved to you all that I like dark foreign films as much as the next American? Yes? Well-done, Me.


BMT said...

I think they're making a movie about The Monster of Florence. Wtih Tom Cruise. Perhaps he'll play the shadowy serial killer who never gets identified. Probably not.

Our Heroine said...

Ugh. I went and looked on IMDB and it isn't coming out until next year.