Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Review: The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston

The Monster of FlorenceThe Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Monster of Florence is a serial killer in Italy who has never been apprehended for 16 gruesome murders committed in the Florentine countryside. A look at the search for the killer and all the bumbles along the way.

I think what was even more horrifying to me than the gruesome murders of 16 people is the extreme miscarriage of justice in this unsolved murder mystery. This passage explains what I am talking about,

The case was the purest distillation of evil I had ever encountered . . . the evil of the depraved killings of a highly disturbed human being. But the case was about other kinds of evil as well. Some of the top investigators, prosecutors and judges in the case, charged with the sacred responsibility of finding the truth appeared to be more interested in using the case to leverage their power to greater personal glory. Having committed themselves to a defective theory, they refused to reconsider their beliefs when faced with overwhelming contradictory evidence. They cared more about saving face than saving lives, more about pushing their careers than putting the Monster behind bars.

Much of the book is about this hubris of prosecutors and police inspectors (two in particular) and the drastic results that follow. I can't believe how many different men have been convicted of this crime and later acquitted but with their lives ruined in the process.

A fascinating read, but less satisfactory to someone who wants a neatly tied up ending.

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Review: How I live Now by Meg Rosoff

How I Live NowHow I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Troubled teen Daisy is sent to live with her cousins in the picturesque English countryside. Unfortunately her arrival coincides with the beginning of war and occupation with an Unnamed Enemy. Life becomes tragic and difficult as food, water, electricity and safety become scarce.

What I liked most about this book is the unique way it is written; all from Daisy's point of view. She is clever, witty and maintains a sense of humor even in the midst of tragedy.  I also love her cousin, Piper, who is sweet and guileless and has an uncanny knack of communicating with animals.  I'm not sure how I am supposed to feel about the cousin-love relationship that becomes such a part of Daisy's life but it seems to matter less when the Real World is falling apart.

Definitely a read that gives you a good think.

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