The old saying, “Real life is stranger than fiction,” is particularly true when it comes to serial killers. Tracking one down can be a grueling experience!
I recently came across Green River Killer: A True Detective Story from Dark Horse, and it really grabbed me from the first panel. Highly recommended even with the higher-than-average price tag!
GREEN RIVER KILLER: A TRUE DETECTIVE STORY OGN
Written by: Jeff Jensen
Art by: Jonathan Case
Publisher: Dark Horse Books
Cover Price: $24.99
SOLICITATION:The story of one of America’s most notorious killers is revealed in this true-crime comic unlike any other! Throughout the 1980s, the highest priority of Seattle-area police was the apprehension of the Green River Killer, the man responsible for the murders of dozens of women. In 1990, with the body count numbering at least forty-eight, the case was put in the hands of a single detective, Tom Jensen. After twenty years, when the killer was finally captured with the help of DNA technology, Jensen spent 180 days interviewing Gary Leon Ridgway in an effort to learn his most closely held secrets–an epic confrontation with evil that proved as disturbing and surreal as can be imagined. Written by Jensen’s own son, acclaimed entertainment writer Jeff Jensen, Green River Killer: A True Detective Story presents the ultimate insider’s account of America’s most prolific serial killer.
A GLIMPSE INSIDE BOTH KILLER AND DETECTIVE
Before I dive into the book itself, I wanted to come clean on a couple of things. First, I never ordered this OGN. However, the woman who runs the comics shop I frequent knows I’m interested in serial killers and why they do what they do. When this came in and she couldn’t identify who ordered it, she asked if I wanted it. Of course, I said yes!
Also, this is another printing for this book. It was first published back in 2011. Honestly, I’ve seen a lot of “true crime” shows about the Green River Killer on the tube recently, but I had never heard of this OGN before seeing it in my local comics shop.
Third, I adored this hardcover! It explored a lot of the story behind the story, including how Tom Jensen and those around him zeroed in on Ridgway and finally arrested him.
It’s important to know that this OGN is largely told in a black-and-white format. It does fit the tale, which is gruesome and compelling at the same time.
Although the book is called “Green River Killer,” the focus is largely on the author’s father, Tom Jensen, often the lead detective in the case. I don’t think the story suffers from this because Jensen’s attention is indeed on the person committing the murders.
The story begins with a prologue set in 1965 in which a young boy is stabbed with a knife. The person doing the attack says, “I just wanted to know what it felt like to kill someone.” Once that set up is complete, the focus is turned mainly on Jensen, his background, and the details of the case.
The pacing is quick, and the characterization of Detective Jensen and those around him is engaging. It’s helpful when you have an intimate knowledge of the people, apparently!
This is indeed a “true crime” tale. Based on what I know of the story, it’s very close (if not completely accurate) when it comes to who did what and what happened when. For someone like me who loves mysteries as well as those working to solve the case, I loved it!
As I previously mentioned, the art is black and white, but it’s also full of important details. Facial expressions are strongly displayed, and we never have to wonder what people are feeling and when.
The murders and violence don’t take place in the art in this OGN, but we get a powerful sense of their impact based on the dramatic sequences. I particularly enjoyed the times when Detective Jensen confronted Ridgway during the many days the two faced each other! You could cut the tension with a knife, to be sure!
BOTTOM LINE: A ‘Real’ Tale of Mystery!
The one thing I’m always trying to understand is why? What motivates someone to actually take the life of another person? The way I was raised, you get away from a person you don’t get along with. You don’t murder him or her!
Near the end of the book, the author addresses this issue, saying his father “never got a satisfactory answer to the ‘why’ of the Green River Killer. Perhaps Ridgway was incapable of giving one.”
Still, we do get an intimate look inside the killer’s mind, why he chose the victims he did, and the impact this case had on the author’s father, the victims’ families and others.
It’s a 235-page gripping tale of not only whodunit, but how crimes impact many people for years to come, possibly their entire lives.
Green River Killer: A True Detective Story
It’s a gripping tale of not only whodunit, but how crimes impact many people for years to come, possibly their entire lives.