Green River Killer: A True Detective Story (HC)
Publisher: Dark Horse
Writer: Jeff Jensen
Artist: Jonathan Case
I know that people think because the evening news shows people’s darker sides on a daily basis, that they’ve seen it all, but when you actually sit down and read a true story about the atrocities that Gary Ridgway got away with for twenty years, you are seriously creeped out. Detective Tom Jensen is given the task to find the killer of a few women along the Green River in Washington State in the early Nineteen-Eighties. Detective Jensen soon comes to realize that this is no ordinary case, and that he’s going to be on this one for a while. Did he realize it would take twenty years to actually make an arrest? Probably not, but that is the reality of this tragedy. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, Ridgway and his attorneys make a plea deal. This deal was something that should have only lasted a couple of weeks, but ended up lasting six months. Ridgway agreed to tell the police about many more murders that he committed if they would not seek the death penalty. What ensues is Ridgway working with police and many more victims being found. There are definitely a few twists and turns to this true story. Some interesting, some that will make you want to vomit, so be ready.
This book is nothing short of riveting on many levels. First, you have Detective Jensen trying on a daily basis for twenty plus years to keep it together mentally and emotionally for his family, and his co-workers. The dedication it took him to grind this out for the time period it took is a phenomenal testament to the man’s devotion to his work. The writing from Detective Jensen’s own son, Jeff, is from a standpoint of not only someone that saw the daily grind for his father, but also from the view of someone that grew up with this in their neighborhood.
There were a few pages that absolutely stood out among all others for me personally. One one page, Detective Jensen asks Ridgway, “Why did you do this?” It’s a full page shot of Detective Jensen that just stands out for several reasons. The dialog at that point has been of Ridgway finally opening up to the police about some details of the how and why aspects of the murders, and you can just see the puzzled and painful look on the detective’s face. My other favorite page was when Detective Jensen just broke down in tears after the revelation that Ridgway killed mostly for the apparent reason of feeling neglected. Jonathan Case did a great job illustrating this book with a perfect understanding of how human emotions relate to facial expressions.
I can’t really relay how much this book had my brain confused at times, though. The writer kind of skipped back and forth from the 2000s and the early 1980s. Now, I understand why, but it did make it slightly slow moving at certain points. That being said, I had to keep reminding myself that this was a true story. I’m sure that is because it’s a true story in comic book format, which is something that doesn’t happen very often. Overall this is a great (but definitely mature) read, and I say thank you to not only the writer (and Dark Horse), but also his father for having an unbelievable work ethic to see this through. He is the textbook definition of the word determination. If you enjoy true crime novels, then seriously consider picking this up.