If you know me then you know I’m a True Crime buff. I love reading and watching everything I can about it. I honestly believe I’m on some sort of FBI Watchlist because of it. So, when I was at the comic book shop on Saturday and came across Green River Killer: A True Detective Story by Jeff Jensen I had to pick it up. The book was on my radar when it came out but I never got around to buying it. This book is different than most because well, it’s in comic book form and it’s written by the son of one of the Green River detectives. Here’s a little more information from Amazon:
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. Green River Killer is bound to become a well-recognized member of the crime-genre graphic novel family, including titles like Darwyn Cooke’s The Hunter and Alan Moore’s From Hell.
If you’re someone who enjoys TC but maybe not some of the more graphic books out there, this one is perfect for you. They touch on the crimes a little but the main focus is on trying to catch him and what the police force went through to do it. The book goes back and forth between the past and the present but it wasn’t confusing at all. I’ve read books in the past that had issues on that front but this one nailed it. I can only imagine what it’s like to work on a case like this. How you can’t really talk about it with anyone. How it eats you up inside, especially a case that went on for so long. I think we’re all naive if we think these cases don’t take a toll on the health of those involved. These detectives worked day in and day out to try and solve this and had families to worry about as well. The fact that the Jensen family was able to stay strong throughout really shows how loving a family they are. I know it sounds weird to hear the word “loving” in a review about a serial killer book but like I said, this focuses more on Tom Jensen and his team than on Ridgway.
The art in the book is fantastic as well. I can’t talk about a graphic novel without talking about the graphics. The fact that everything was kept black and white really added to the mood and style of the book. I can’t imagine it being in color. Jonathan Case did an excellent job of portraying the different years and handled the aging of the characters well. Nothing was over done, just an added wrinkle here and less hair there. The way he handled the victims was done with care in my opinion. I think the choice of going black and white played a large role in that. It can be easy to cross a line when using color and comic books are no strangers to violence. You can tell he really put some thought into how he wanted everyone to be perceived, including those who lost their lives.
In the end, if you’re looking for a true crime book that’s a little different, from more of a first hand account, this is for you. I know it seems that more and more these books have become more graphic in their nature. I feel that you can tell a story about murder without being overly disturbing and this book does that. If you’re looking for another book that’s similiar to this, I recommend checking out My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf. It’s another first hand account that focuses more on the people and less on the crimes.
Have you checked this book out? If so, what did you think?