Thursday, January 5, 2012

Green River Killer: A True Detective Story - Jeff Jensen and Jonathan Case

I've always had a morbid fascination with true crime.  In my pre-blogging days, I read everything ever written by Ann Rule, who dominates the genre.  Many of her books kept me awake at night, but two that stood out were "The Stranger Beside Me" (about Ted Bundy, and insanely enough, Rule actually KNEW Bundy and worked with him, so that gave the story an eerie twist) and "Green River, Running Red" about Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer.

It is hard not to wonder how on earth a dumpy little man could have killed an estimated 71 women over two decades before he was caught.  He probably slipped by the authorities for longer than expected because he targeted prostitutes.  For the scariest up-close look at the face of evil, you should read Rule's book.  She leaves no fact undisturbed, and additionally explores the efforts of the homicide detectives that ultimately brought him down.

It was no wonder, then, that my antennae twitched when I read Swapna and Candace's reviews of a graphic novel that explores the hunt and capture of Gary Ridgway.

Synopsis:   If you read Entertainment Weekly, you may recognize the name Jeff Jensen as one of their senior writers.  What you may not know is that his father spent most of his career as a police officer chasing down the Green River Killer.  Jeff teams up with illustrator Jonathan Case to bring this tragic story to life from the perspective of Jeff's father Tom and his fellow King County homicide detectives.

With the smooth and perfectly-paced transition back and forth in time over 19 years, almost like a movie, the authors place the readers in the shoes of Tom Jensen.  We experience the frustration, the endless hours, the countless bodies, the desperate faces of the victims' families.  We see the capture and interrogation of Ridgway, and then go back in time to see all of the steps and broken hearts and dreams it took to get there.

My thoughts:  Despite the fact that I thought I knew everything there was to know about this case, I could not put this book down.  It brought this sensationalized story down to a personal level.  For example, I found it touching that a picture of Jeff Jensen, in a school production of "The Impossible Dream", was what inspired his father to never give up.  When you integrate that with the stark and chilling black and white illustrations, you have an undeniable combination.

Normally, in a review of a graphic novel, I include pictures.  I had to resist in this case.  Some of them were disturbing, and probably not suited for everyone.  Even though I was well aware of the crimes committed upon these women, it is jarring to see it on the page.

I also appreciated that Jensen, per his father's strict request, did not exploit the victims of their families in the telling of this story.  It was handled with respect for their grief.

For anyone that enjoys graphic novels as well as true crime, this is one you won't want to miss.

4 out of 5 stars                
 

19 comments:

bermudaonion said...

I swear we are twins. I used to read true crime like crazy and wondered what that meant about me. I'm glad to know this book is respectful of the victims and their families.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

To me the even more amazing story was about his wife!

Jenny said...

Wow Ive never heard of doing this type of story in graphic novel form! I imagine some of the pictures must have been really disturbing.

Anita said...

I've never read anygraphic novels. Long ago I read chrime stories like Helter Skelter and the story of Jeffry Mc Donald. I read the Ted Bundy stuff too and didnt sleep!!!

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

I can read and watch vampires, werewolves, zombies, etc all day long and even some fiction with serial killers. But, the real stuff freaks me out. I read and watched Helter Skelter and Ted Bundy's stories and almost never recovered...I even have vivid images in my head right now as I typing...SHIVERS!

Zibilee said...

This story and the way it is told is such an unusual combination, and I have to admit that it's piqued my interest too, so I just requested it from the library. I have not read much true crime, but the fact that this is a graphic novel and tells a story that it scary and thrilling really makes me anxious to read it. Great review on this one today! I am glad you liked it and I hope that I do too!

Marce said...

You have sold me on Ann Rules book and my first try at a Graphic Book, this sounds amazing, you know how I like crime books. Totally intrigued, I get a 2 in 1 from this review, thank you.

Brooke said...

I love true crime and I'm especially interested in the minds of serial killers. Add in a little graphic novel action and I'm there! Thanks so much for putting this book to my attention.

Julie P. said...

We have similar tastes in true crime books. I loved both of those too. And I'm dying to read this book!

Beth(bookaholicmom) said...

My sister loves true crime stories. I'd say she is borderline obsessed. I'll have to recommend this book to her.

Jenners said...

True crime stuff creeps me out. I'm not a huge fan because it fills me with lots of unpleasant thoughts and feelings. And in graphic form … not sure I could handle it.

Trisha said...

Is it bad that I read about the illustrations and got intrigued....? I'm all about the respect, but I can't deny a morbid fascination.

heidenkind said...

The only true crime book I've ever read is In Cold Blood. I'm not sure I could handle a graphic novel that deals with true crime.

Ti said...

My jaw dropped when you said this was a graphic novel. I'd never think to do a book like this as a graphic novel but I guess it worked out! I LOVE true crime stories. That is really the only type of crime book you will ever get me to read... unless it's written but a hot guy by the name of Jo.

Darlene said...

I enjoy true crime books and I certainly watch enough of it on tv. It fascinates me. I watched a 4 hour movie I think it was on The Green River Killer and it was good. Scary as hell, but good. I bet the book would be good with all the additional info.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

This one has been on my radar for awhile because of EW. It's good to know it wasn't a disappointment.

Amy said...

This book sounds fascinating. I've watched a few true crime tv shows about the Green River Killer (Jeff Jensen's father was mention a lot) so this book really interests me...and scares me! What's really frightening is how long Ridgwat was able to evade capture.

This is a great review, Sandy. I'm putting this one on my wishlist!

Beth F said...

I'm so glad you gave this a try. I felt it was such a tribute to his father -- the man who wouldn't give up.

Kathleen said...

You KNOW this one is right up my alley Sandy! We are the True Crime twins. Ha!