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Green River Killer: Murder in Seattle

Updated on February 15, 2012

The Green River Killer is probably the American serial killer with the most prolific body count. Active in the 80s and 90s, he was convicted of killing at least 49 women once he was caugfht, and may have killed as many as 71. This comic, entitled simply "Green River Killer: A True Detective Story" , is a simple story that focuses both on Gary Ridgway (the man convicted of being the killer) and Tom Jensen, the man who chased him for more than twenty years (whose son wrote the script for the comic).

Tom Jensen is a relatively simple Seattle detective, assigned to Burglary. But when the SPD begins to think they might have the next Ted Bundy on their hands, he gets transferred to a task force to try to track down the mysterious killer. The story flashes back and forward from the Eighties and early Nineties, when initial hope turns to frustration as the police are unable to get enough evidence to arrest any of their suspects, and 2003, when the arrested Ridgway decides to plea bargain by offering to confess to all of the murders he committed and help the police find the bodies of women they were unable to find, in exchange for not being put to death.

Ridgway is a fascinating and disturbing person, eerily blank and weirdly detached from the world around him. Even though he does offer to help the police find and identify bodies, it soon becomes apparent that Ridgway either can't or won't remember enough details to help the police. Getting him to open up as to why he killed these women and where their bodies ends up as a sort of frustrating game of give and take, particularly for Jensen.

Jensen is a great hero for this story, a man who is absurdly driven and devoted to catching the killer. In spite of suspects messing with him, unhelpful tips from the public, the task force being shut down, and his increasing age, he still dogs on. Once he gets too old to be a detective he gets himself hired as an analyst for the department, and keeps right on working on Green River and other cold cases. It is clear that Jeff Jensen, the writer of this book and Tom Jensen's son, really admires him and wanted to show how great a man his father was. That said, we still get to see some of Tom Jensen's faults, such as a short temper and an ease at getting frustrated. He comes off as a great man, but a human one.

The artwork by Jonathon Case is great, almost photorealistic, which works great for the comic's nonfiction subject matter. I also liked how detail-rich the artwork was, making it a reward sight to read all the way through. The sense of pacing is also empeccable, as the reader is sent back and forth in time in a way that doesn't result in getting lost but helps enrich the whole experience.

All in all, a great book that anyone with a strong enough stomach to deal with subject matter common to serial killer stories (murder, death, sexual perversity, etc.). Check it out if you want to know more about this fascinating case.


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