Book Review: Green River, Running Red

9780743460507_p0_v1_s260x420Title: The Green River, Running Red: The Real Story of the Green River Killer – America’s Deadliest Serial Murderer
Author: Ann Rule
Genre: Nonfiction – True Crime
Publisher: Free Press
Publication Date: September 28, 2004
Pages: 448
Format Read: Audiobook through Libby app
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library
Date finished reading: January 23, 2019

Goodreads Description: In the most extraordinary book Ann Rule has ever undertaken, America’s master of true crime has spent more than two decades researching the story of the Green River Killer, who murdered more than forty-nine young women. The quest to discover the most prolific serial killer in American history has been an intimate part of Ann Rule’s life, with some of the corpses found only a mile or so from where she lived and raised her own daughters. She did not know the killer, but he apparently knew her and attended many of her book signings.For twenty-one years, the killer carried out his self-described “career” as a killing machine, ridding the world of women he considered evil. His eerie ability to lure his victims to their deaths and hide their bodies made him far more dangerous than any infamous multiple murderer in the annals of crime.

A few men — including a law student, a truck painter, and a taxi driver — eventually emerged as the prime suspects among an unprecedented forty thousand scrutinized by the Green River Task Force. Still, there was no physical evidence linking any of them to the murders until 2001, when investigators used a new DNA process on a saliva sample they had preserved since 1987, with stunning results.

Ann Rule has followed the case since July 1982, when the first body — that of teenager Wendy Lee Coffield — was found in the Green River, snagged on pilings under a bridge. Rule has compiled voluminous files, working through an incredible 95,000 pages of official police records, transcripts, photographs, and maps, winnowing out the chaff and identifying what is truly important. Over the years, she gained unparalleled access to all the key players — from KingCounty Sheriff Dave Reichert to those close to the killer and his victims.

When finally apprehended and convicted, the killer made a detailed confession — of his twisted sexual obsessions — that will shock even the most jaded reader. “Green River, Running Red” is a harrowing account of a modern monster, a killer who walked among us undetected. It is also the story of his quarry — of who these young girls were, and who they might have become. A chilling look at the darkest side of human nature, this is the most important and most personal book of Ann Rule’s long career.

My Review: I can never say enough how much I adore Ann Rule! I wish I would have read her years ago, when I was a bit embarrassed about my fascination with true crime. All these years later, I realize that I am far from alone, and Ann Rule was the queen of true crime writing.

A few months back I read a different book about the Green River Killer, who was convicted of killing dozens of sex workers and other women over the span of two decades, called Chasing the Devil by Sheriff David Reichert. This book helped me familiarize myself with Green River Killer case, but that was about all I got from it. I felt that the point of that book was to defend the actions of the police force. I understand doing that, but what I love and admire about Ann Rule is that she focuses on humanizing the victims and then introducing the villain (aka the serial killer). If there is any finger pointing or blame, it is primarily directed at the killer, where it should be.

During the first half of Green River, Running Red, Ann Rule gives little blurbs about all the victims. It is hard not to be slightly overwhelmed by all the names – all the victims, but that is what I believe Ann Rule wanted you to feel. She wanted you to understand the sheer amount of lives this killer affected. Gary Ridgway, the convicted Green River killer, said to the police “I thought I was doing you guys a favor, killing prostitutes. Here you guys can’t control them, but I can.” However, his victims had families – husbands, boyfriends, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, etc. Ann Rule makes you feel the loss the families felt.

The second half of Green River, Running Red focuses on the hunt for the Green River Killer by the police, their suspects, and eventually the arrest of Gary Ridgway. She describes Gary Ridgway’s double life. The one where he was violent and a murderer, and the one where he had a steady job and a relationship/marriage (his third marriage) with Judith Lynch for almost 20 years. Ann Rule includes the police interviewing Judith, which was just jaw dropping. She just had no idea who she was married to and continued to profess her love for Gary Ridgway.

Ann Rules ability to write a dramatic story with factual details makes her the best true crime writer. This was definitely a fascinating read. I also highly recommend Ann Rule’s The Stranger Beside Me and The I-5 Killer.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

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