A truly visceral read that will not let readers look away.

In his second book, 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. When asked by the narrator, Melogno readily admitted to shooting four taxi drivers at point-blank range. However, when pressed about why he did it, he was unable to offer a satisfying answer. According to the court investigator who arrested Melogno, he waited until “something indicated ‘that one’ to him. He could sense it, but he didn’t know how or why. He couldn’t say why he killed them, or how he chose them.” From there, readers embark on a dark journey into Melogno’s childhood, when he was largely neglected but occasionally accompanied his abusive mother to spiritual and healing ceremonies. “My mother used religion as a weapon: she beat the living daylights out of me, but she’d say it wasn’t her who was beating me, it was God punishing me through her.” Due to his upbringing, Melogno developed superstitions and beliefs in certain dark arts: “In all those places my mother took me…well, everyone said that I had this strong ability for channeling that I had inherited from her.” Due to his presence and his behavior, described by some as an “evil streak,” many inmates and guards feared him, a situation Melogno describes with particular intensity. Though this book is short, it packs a hard punch, from the first page—Busqued’s first comment to Melogno: “I was told that someone saw you levitate”—through the artfully rendered interview process with criminal, arresting officers, and psychiatrist. 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.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-948226-68-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Catapult

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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