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Green River Killer: A True Detective Story (Review)


Writer: Jeff Jensen

Artist: Jonathan Case

Green River Killer is a fascinating book about Gerry Leon Ridgeway, one of the most prolific serial killers in history, and the team that tries to catch him. What makes this graphic novel so interesting is that it's written by the son of one of the main investigators of the Green River Taskforce. His son Jeff Jensen had all the notes and info of his father to make this into a great graphic novel. Tom Jensen's father was a police detective in Washington and tried to catch this killer for 20 years. And succeeded in the end... This is not a spoiler for the book, as from very early on you know who the killer is, and that he gets caught.

The story shifts in time a lot but is never hard to follow. On one page they are on a crime scene and in another they are interviewing the killer and asking him all kinds of stuff, effortlessly changing and keeping you on your toes. From page one you are sucked into the story, the first few pages are thrilling and scary and in just a few panels you know something is not right. The artwork in black and white looks decent and looks a bit like David Lapham's art in Stray Bullets, nothing big or spectacular, but calm and focused, and set on expressions.

We follow the story through different time frames, the biggest being the one after he gets caught. He made a plea bargain at the time for himself offering to show some of the places where he dumped his victims, so he would escape the death penalty, something that was and is very controversial still, but because they wanted to solve more of the unknown crimes, they agreed on. What was supposed to be 30 days on the road with this sick man, extended into more than 5 months, and Ridgeway confessed to over 70 murders, and was convicted of 48. A number that is just ridiculous to me. They even slept with him at the sheriff's office and spent a lot of time with him, and as a participant of the story we get to know him just a little bit more. We also get to know some of his crazy traits, like him going back to murder scenes to have sex with the victims again, and later on burying victims to not give in through his sick urges.

Truth really is stranger than fiction at times. It's not only doom and gloom, there are lighthearted moments with family, and even a very funny one when Jensen, now a middle aged cop needs to take a physical exam, giving the reader at times a much needed breeder. In the end it's just a very decent true crime story told in a good and clear way. Some things remain a mystery to me, like how a simple man with a normal job and married 3 times with an IQ of barely 80 could kill this frequently over the course of 20 years and not get caught earlier. It's also a shame that some weird things never get explained, not because of not including them but simply for never getting a satisfying answer from Ridgeway. In the end he just remains an enigma..

I recommend this for True Crime enthusiasts and people who like shows like Mindhunter, but also to people who just try to read something out of their comfort zone and want to try something different.

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