Douglas Preston: Hachette Speakers Bureau

Douglas Preston

Best-Selling Author

Internationally best-selling thrill writer Douglas Preston and his family moved to Italy in 2000 to fulfill their dream of living in the beautiful hills above Florence. He soon discovered that the olive grove outside their 14th century farmhouse was the site of a horrendous double-homicide. Intrigued, Preston tracked down Mario Spezi, who has spent his journalistic career following the twists and turns of the search for the murderer known as The Monster of Florence, a serial killer so vicious he has held generations of Florentines in terror.

Preston and Spezi embark on a search for the real identity of the Monster. They eventually learn what may be the truth and confront the suspect in an interview in which they ask him: Are you "The Monster of Florence"? His answer is as chilling as it is unforgettable. As Spezi and Preston close in on the real killer, their discoveries fly in the face of the theories of the special prosecutors in charge of "The Monster" investigation. Stunningly, first Spezi and then Preston come under the sights of Italian authorities and are held, questioned, threatened and accused of being a part of a vast Satanic conspiracy the authorities are convinced are behind the killings. Preston is indicted and told to leave Italy; Spezi is arrested and jailed, accused of being the "Monster" himself.

Preston said, "As a thriller writer, I know that a crime novel must contain certain elements. There must be a killer who has a comprehensible motive. There must be evidence. There must be a process of discovery that leads, one way or another, to the truth. The fatal mistake Spezi and I made was in assuming that the 'Monster of Florence' case would follow this pattern. Only this is not a novel and there won't be a confession. Without one, 'The Monster' will never be found.

Preston worked as a writer and editor for the American Museum of Natural History and taught writing at Princeton University. He has written for The New Yorker, Natural History, National Geographic, Harper's, Smithsonian and The Atlantic. The author of several acclaimed nonfiction books, Preston is also behind (co-authored with Lincoln Child) the best-selling series of novels following the adventures of "FBI Agent Pendergast."

At the podium, Preston shares the obstacles he faced when investigating a serial killer and whether the police and other people he interviewed were cooperative. He also explores how he found himself to be a suspect, and how writing this non-fiction story was different than writing one of his crime thrillers.

"Meticulous account of the collaboration between American thriller author Preston and Italian journalist Spezi to plumb a long-unsolved series of murders. A cautionary saga about how the criminal-justice system can spin out of control."
- Kirkus Reviews

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