A riveting psychological portrait for readers of true crime classics such as My Dark Places, The Stranger Beside Me, and I'll Be Gone In the Dark, one of Argentina's most innovative writers brings to life the story of a serial killer who, in 1982, murdered four taxi drivers without any apparent motive.
Over the course of one ghastly week in September 1982, the bodies of four taxi drivers were found in Buenos Aires, each murder carried out with the same cold precision. The assailant: a nineteen-year-old boy, odd and taciturn, who gave the impression of being completely sane. But the crimes themselves were not: four murders, as exact as they were senseless.
More than thirty years later, Argentine author Carlos Busqued began visiting Ricardo Melogno, the serial killer, in prison. Their conversations return to the nebulous era of the crimes and a story full of missing pieces. The result is a book at once hypnotic and unnerving, constructed from forensic documents, newspaper clippings, and interviews with Melogno himself. Without imposing judgment, Busqued allows for the killer to describe his way of retreating from the world and to explain his crimes as best he can. In his own words, Melogno recalls a visit from Pope Francis, grim depictions of daily life in prison, and childhood remembrances of an unloving mother who drove her son to Brazil to study witchcraft. As these conversations progress, the focus slowly shifts from the crimes themselves, to Melogno's mistreatment and mis-diagnosis while in prison, to his current fate: incarcerated in perpetuity despite having served his full sentence.
Using these personal interviews, alongside forensic documents and newspaper clippings, Busqued crafted Magnetized, a captivating story about one man's crimes, and a meditation on how one chooses to inhabit the world, or to become absent from it.
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About the Author
Samuel Rutter is a writer and translator from Melbourne, Australia.
Winner of the XXV Premio San Clemente Rosalía Prize
"Busqued unnerves and entertains readers with this forensic tale synthesized from more than 90 hours of dialogue with a serial killer. The author's interviews with Ricardo Melogno detail not only his crimes, which took place during one week in 1982, but also his motivations--or lack thereof--and the killer's fascinating, disturbing psyche . . . Artfully rendered . . . The narrative is perfect for anyone fascinated by the criminal mind, the distinctions between mental illness and possession, or the concept of predestined evil. A truly visceral read that will not let readers look away." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"A fascinating profile . . . This is a chilling look at a prison system unable to meet the needs of mentally ill inmates." --Library Journal
"A true-crime book that pulls no punches in covering a killer, but doesn't skimp on humanity, either. A solid effort not to be missed." --Booklist
"Serial killers will never not be compelling, but we risk much when we seek in them entertainment and diversion, without considering what the darkness means, or where it comes from. In Magnetized, Carlos Busqued seeks after some of that meaning in his conversations with Argentine serial killer Ricardo Melogno, who was convicted for the 1982 murders of four Buenos Aires taxi drivers, each one committed with cold precision. Busqued bolsters his conversations with forensic reports and newspaper stories, revealing a life lost before it has really begun, and the tragedy it visits upon the world." --Jonny Diamond, Literary Hub, One of the Most Anticipated Books of the Year
"[Magnetized] paints a vivid picture of the real-life serial killer in Buenos Aires, Ricardo Melogno. The author visited Melogno in prison and interviewed him, and in this mixed-media book which includes everything from newspaper clippings to Santeria indoctrination, you'll start to fear the 'something dense' that Melogno says inhabits him." --Novel Gazing (podcast), Book Riot
"Magnetized by Carlos Busqued will make shivers run down your spine. Not since Netflix's The Confession Tapes have we been able to jump right into the mind of a cold-blooded killer. This book focuses on Busqued's conversations with serial killer Ricardo Melogno, who was found guilty of killing four taxi drivers in Buenos Aires in 1982." --Popsugar, 1 of 15 True-Crime Books That Will Make This Your Most Paranoid Year Ever
"By letting its subject, Ricardo Melogno, speak for himself, Busqued's Magnetized elevates above prurient spectacle to become something much more: an uncommonly--and uncomfortably--clear depiction of a mind, its complications, idiosyncrasies, and private corners. This is a haunting and momentous encounter with another consciousness." --Gabe Habash, author of Stephen Florida
"Ricardo Melogno was a shy nineteen-year-old kid who was prone to migraines and drifted around Buenos Aires like a ghost. He was a nobody until over the course of one week in 1982, he shot four taxi drivers dead from the back seats of their cars. He has been imprisoned ever since, thanks to dubious psychiatric diagnoses that are no more effective than spent matches at illuminating the abyss of his mind. Thirty-five years later, Busqued interviews this killer, who seems to have been reborn inside the penal system, and transforms the recording into a study of the human soul. Without morbidness, sensationalism, or prejudice, Busqued seeks out the motive behind the killings but soon realizes the motive itself is a MacGuffin: the wanderings of this long conversation between author and murderer are what ultimately magnetize the reader. Sober in its narration and surgical in its execution, Magnetized is the most beautifully human text I've read in recent years." --María Gainza, author of Optic Nerve
"What makes Busqued worth reading, and why we should be grateful that Catapult has decided to translate and publish him, is that his murder-writing shifts noir into pleasantly unexpected terrain . . . Previously invisible patterns form ominously--in conversations, in the cracks in prison cell walls, between this particular murder case and a thousand other cases you've seen fictionalized on trashy television--and just as unpredictably disappear . . . He's one of the best living Argentine writers translated into English today." --Scott Beauchamp, Splice Today
"This book is neither crime fiction, nor dirty realism, nor journalism, nor reportage, nor non fiction. Busqued has just invented a disjointed genre, just as raw as the harsh reality that inspires it, with which he revitalizes the expiring protocols of realism: a literary composite or, to use a more formalist description, an ethical and metaphysical montage." -- Graciela Speranza, Télam
"Reading Magnetized recalls philosopher Simone Weil's quote about the dead: Their absence is their way of appearing. What Busqued has done is to erase himself from his own text, to take a step back and leave himself in the mist so that his conversation [with a killer] can occupy the whole book. And in doing that, he has created a new way of writing." --Eugenia Almeida, La Voz
"In Magnetized, Carlos Busqued delves into the mind of a killer in a book that is not a novel but that reads as such, leaving a strange taste in the mouth... In this book, Busqued shows, once again, his ability to create a unique and disturbing universe." --Juan Carlos Galindo, El País
"Magnetized is a piercing and merciless book: at its center is the voice of Ricardo Melogno, a man imprisoned for murdering taxi drivers. But there is more to his words than the horror of crime: traces of a prison system incapable of dealing with mental illness, memories of a haunted childhood, and echoes of daily life in a sinister city. Carlos Busqued listens and records Melogno's story with a sangfroid as hair-raising as his novel." --Mariana Enriquez, author of Things We Lost in the FirePraise for Under This Terrible Sun
"[S]hocking and interesting in ways that literary novels rarely achieve... [C]reeping dread and inhuman elements are at play... refreshing to read in Busqued's telling, capturing some of the more interesting morally-questionable elements of humanity that are usually only portrayed in Scandinavian (or other styles of) detective thrillers... Under This Terrible Sun is a damn good read." --Will Evans, The Three Percent
"Like all good noir, there are crimes within crimes here. But what really makes the novel work, and what makes it worthy of our attention, is this central question of figuring out what is meaningful to us in such an amoral and capricious world. Weather, cars, fish, toy planes, elephants, pornography, weed, coffins, beetles, dreams, crosses -- all threaten to weigh in with equally heavy importance, projecting a repetitive monotony of doom -- a weird mandala of despair slowly rotating on the page." --Scott Beauchamp, Full Stop