Trin's Reviews > Green River, Running Red: The Real Story of the Green River Killer--America's Deadliest Serial Murderer

Green River, Running Red by Ann Rule
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's review
Oct 18, 2009

it was ok
bookshelves: american-lit, truecrime
Read in October, 2009

What is it about Washington State that attracts serial killers? Last year I read Ann Rule's The Stranger Beside Me, which is a fascinating book in large part because Rule, even then a crime writer, was actually friends with its subject: Ted Bundy. That's a bizarre and disturbing piece of kismet right there. And it lead to a true crime story that was psychologically complex because Rule was clearly trying so hard to understand how the man who was her friend could also be such a monster.

Rule, sadly, does not bring the same level of analysis to the story of fellow Washington State resident Gary Leon Ridgway, a.k.a.The Green River Killer, a.k.a. The Most Prolific Serial Killer in North American History (Possibly). Though she tries to stress her involvement in the case, it was comparatively minimal, so the personal connection present in the Stranger is absent here. Still, it would be interesting to see the psychological motivations of a guy like Ridgway, who--unusually for a serial killer--is not very bright, and--again highly unusual--managed multiple marriages and long-term relationships at the same time had a busy second career soliciting and murdering prostitutes. Instead of going into that, though, Rule just summarily concludes that it was somehow all his controlling mother's fault. Uh-huh.

The text of this very, very long book is therefore mostly taken up by the victims' stories--which are tragic, and do deserve to be told, but I didn't particularly care for Rule's method of cherry-picking the "juicy" ones and leaving other girls--equally deserving--with just a sentence or two. I really wish this book had had more focus--the story of the investigation gets kind of buried under so much other stuff, and the narrative doesn't seem to be organized terribly well. I read this book because I became fascinated with the portrait of the Green River Killings Neko Case paints in her song "Deep Red Bells"; it's less than four minutes long and I think it achieves something more vivid and poignant and terrible than this book does in over 500 pages.
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