Thursday, July 28, 2011

Book Review: Green River Killer: A True Detective Story by Jeff Jensen & Jonathan Case

Title: Green River Killer: A True Detective Story
Author: Jeff Jensen, Jonathan Case
Publisher: Dark Horse
Release Date: 10/11/2011
ISBN: 1595825606

Before I start this review I want you to know that I love true crime books. Nothing is as frightening or as chilling as the tales of real people being murdered by monsters more heinous than anything Stephen King or Hollywood could dream up. Why? Because these monsters are very human & very real. That's why I was so eager to read this graphic novel, but unfortunately it just didn't live up to even my most modest expectations.

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. But 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 and fellow detectives spent 188 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 journalist Jeff Jensen, Green River Killer: A True Detective Story presents the ultimate insider''s account of America's most prolific serial killer.

Where did this book go wrong? I'd say it went wrong when the authors decided to jump from time period to time period rather than telling the story in a more linear fashion. The book's format assumes that the reader is at least passingly familiar with the details of the story, which sometimes works against itself. Someone who has never really heard of the GRK will probably feel a little lost at times reading this, while others who have some familiarity will be able to keep up with it fine. I'm familiar with the GRK, so I was able to keep up but I couldn't help but feel that the jumps in the timeline just drew away from the story.

As a result of the jarring jumps I wasn't really able to feel the tension that the book tried to impart, nor was I really able to get a good clear feeling for Tom Jensen's personality. Forgive me, but this really seemed to be a shallow telling & I couldn't help but feel that the creepy story of the GRK was really given the treatment it deserves. I wasn't looking for some overly sensationalized & gory treatment of the GRK & his victims, but I was hoping for something more than this book put out.

There are, however, a few parts in the book where our authors did manage to capture my attention, such as the epilogue (which was very good), the emotional scenes where Jensen has to pass along bad news to family members, as well as Ridgway's chilling admission of "I just needed to kill".

One thing I do have to give praise for is the artwork. It manages to look good without going the "flashy, slick, attention grabbing" route that you see in many comics. The artwork here is understated, which helps keep the work from appearing too unreal & story-like. Others have compared it to the works of Charles Burns, which I agree is a good comparison. It's just that even the excellent artwork in this book was unable to keep this book from being an overall dull & forgettable read.

I'd really only recommend this if you can read it at your local library or glance through it on the shelves of a bookstore. True crime completists will probably want to pick this up since it's one of the few graphic novel versions of any murder's grisly accomplishments, but if you're looking to learn about the GRK then there's better resources out there.

2 out of 5 stars

(ARC provided by Netgalley)

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