The Monster of Florence

I was really excited to start reading The Monster of Florence last week.  It’s a mystery novel and as usual I tried to guess who the “killer” was early on.  And…. I was wrong.  Which made me sad. However, what made me MORE sad was that there was no big reveal for who the killer was.  If you didn’t read along there are spoilers ahead…

The book centers around a serial killer who targets courting couples in their cars.  He watches them have sex and then proceeds to kill them and mutilate them. While there have been a lot of accusations thrown about, they had not yet captured the person.  A special force is put together and we have our protagonist, Marshal Guarnaccia, who normally deals with local police business in Florence such as helping tourists who lost their cameras etc. He is self described as a little slow on the uptake and it always takes him a little longer to process information than it takes other people.  I already love him. While the book was extremely so-so for me, what kept me reading and wanting to figure out what happened was Marshal.  His development of a character was by far the best part of the whole book.

What kind of threw me and left me extremely unsatisfied with this book was that it was going in so many different random directions…which is fine… but then nothing came together at the end. I understand trying to get the reader off the scent of who the real killer is but it was done in a really clunky, not entertaining way, and I was left wondering about all these other random plot points and how they were supposed to relate to the crime and what became of them? They were sort of wrapped up awkwardly and then forgotten about.  There was a whole B story about a young boy named Marco who Marshal had helped when he was younger, and he needed help with a painting he suspected was a forgery. It was extremely strange and random and I guess you need a B story but I was hoping it would somehow relate to the A story a little more.  Maybe I missed some sort of symbolism, and if I did I would love to know what it was.  But the whole story line left me feeling like it was a waste of time and then the resolution where he decided to sell this painting that may or may not have been a forgery just happened and then we hear nothing more about him. I didn’t learn enough about Marco to really care one way or the other.

Then the “red herring” was an older man who was their prime suspect.  He apparently killed in the past and went to jail for it. Then there was this random business about him raping his daughter.  The entire time they were trying to pin the crimes on him so they could wrap up the case nice and neatly.  They chose him because even if he wasn’t the serial killer, the public would have no sympathy for him because he raped his daughter and then they would have their case “solved”. I found the whole situation and story line to have a lot of potential and the author kept adding layers upon layers to it but then nothing felt realized in the end.

The last huge problem I had was the serial killer ended up being Silvano. The guy who they were basically accusing of being the serial killer the entire time.  From the beginning the book had “documents” of evidence that all pointed to him being the killer.  Then, in the end, Marshal realized Silvano was indeed the killer.  I guess. It’s fine. Maybe the story was more about how Marshal was really coming into his own and able to put the pieces together and get more concrete proof to make Silvano the serial killer. But, as a reader, I just LOVE it when the killer ends up being someone completely random and unsuspected but the clues were there the whole time and when you realize it it’s AMAZING. I was kind of hoping maybe the killer would be Marshal’s friend and partner on the case, Ferrini.  It was my stab in the dark and I would have loved to see a confrontation between the two.

In the end it was discovered that there was a bit of corruption among the Italian police departments and they had decided long ago that they were going to get the old man thrown into jail no matter what, even planting evidence to do so.  So, even though Marshal found the real killer, he was not named “The Monster”. I guess I like how the author thought outside the box with the ending and everything wasn’t tied up with a nice little bow, but it would have hit better if everything else came together a little nicer.

I have to say, even though much of the book left me unimpressed, there were a couple moments that affected me a lot and that I really loved. The first was when Marshal overheard his Captain saying that they only put idiot men on The Monster investigation (basically because they already rigged who was going to be pinned for the monster). It struck me and made me cry because Marshal was working so hard trying to go through the evidence, working out all the pieces and trying to put it all together. He knew he was a little slower with reading and trying to figure out things, but he still wanted to try his best and give it his best shot. When he overheard the Captain saying that, a man he trusted and respected, I could just picture his face and how devastating that must have been for him.  In the beginning when he first found out he was being put on this investigation, he even told his wife he wasn’t sure why they would have picked him and she said that the Captain really thinks a lot of him and respects him which made him probably feel special, and like he was really needed and wanted on this case. That whole scene just broke my heart.

The second scene was when Marshal goes to visit the parents of a young girl who was murdered by the Monster years ago. He came at a time in the day when the wife goes to visit her daughter’s grave so the husband walked Marshal there and he had a chat with the wife.  How the husband and wife were described, it was as if they were shells of their former selves. When Marshal went to ask the wife some questions and see if some personal affects they had in evidence were her daughters, the wife went on a bit of a tirade about when they found the body they didn’t want her to see it.  She couldn’t understand why they were trying to spare her because she was a woman. She went on to say that she needed to be the one to lift her daughter’s head up off the ground and clean off her face and fix her hair.  It killed her to see these random men handling her daughter after how she died.  I cried hysterically. It was a beautiful scene.  I wish there were more like that in this book.

Overall this book was extremely average for me. It kept me engaged enough where I wanted to know where they were going with it, but in the end I was extremely unsatisfied.

Overall Rating: 5/10

Would you Recommend to a friend?: No.

Join me this week as I embark on Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt.  I’ve had this book for the LONGEST time and as I was going through my bookshelf, I thought this would be a great time to read it! As always I welcome suggestions in the comments! Hope you read along!

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