Green River Killer: A True Detective Story (Dark Horse)

A story of a real life serial killer from an interesting new perspective: the son of the man who caught him.



240 pgs. B&W; $24.99 hardcover

(W: Jeff Jensen; A: Jonathan Case)

Green River Killer: A True Detective Storyis a graphic novel based on the pursuit of and interviews with a serial killer that killed dozens of women in the state of Washington in the early 1980s and 1990s. The killer would eventually be identified as Gary Ridgway and after his capture he would secretly work with police for 188 days, disclosing information that would help police find many more of the missing women that he raped and killed. In all, Ridgway would be convicted for 49 murders, though he confessed to 71 of them over the course of two decades. Ridgway would escape the death penalty for his cooperation with the police after his capture and now serves a life sentence without parole.

One might think that a graphic novel of such a swinish topic as a real life serial killer would take on a dark, macabre feel, something more like the movies Seven or Summer of Sam. Instead, author Jeff Jensen gives us a more sensible and personal account of the Green River murders. As it turns out, Jensen’s father, Tom Jensen, was an investigating detective on the Green River Task Force from 1983 till Ridgway’s captured. The elder Jensen would also be one of those who continued to interview Ridgway to locate the additional missing women.

Jeff’s story is about his father’s decades-long struggle to locate the murderer and how he would endure mental and emotional strain for his dedication. However, Tom never cracks, nor succumbs to the horrors that he uncovers on a routine basis. Tom Jensen is a man who stays true to himself and to his family through years of disappointment and dejection while investigating the Green River murders. It is a refreshing change to see a story of a man resisting the darkness rather than giving in to it.

Though Jonathan Case is a relatively unknown artist in the sequential art community (his highest profile work was a story in the Tori Amos anthology Comic Book Tattoo), his work is strong and shows a maturity of a person with many more years of experience than he. Green River Killer: A True Detective Storyis done in black and white illustrations and one might expect a noir style book here, but as pointed out already, this isn’t that sort of a book. Case accomplishes telling the story on a deeper level without using big action scenes and fast paced panels. Instead, he uses his ability to draw people’s thoughts and emotions without printed dialogue to assist him. The quiet moments of this book are where it is the strongest, and where Jensen and Case collaborated very well.

Green River Killer: A True Detective Story is a great book to use to introduce graphic novels to a friend or to give as a gift. It is a great example of how graphic novels can just be as effective with drama as with action and fantasy. | Ryan Parker

Click here for a preview of Green River Killer: A True Detective Story, courtesy of Dark Horse 

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