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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

[Previous entry: "Book review: Love and Honor"] [Main Index] [Next entry: "Book review: Alternate Beauty"]

12/25/2005 Archived Entry: "Book review: Green River, Running Red"

Green River, Running Red
By Ann Rule
Published by Pocket Star, a division of Simon and Schuster, Inc.

Review by Richard Mellott

This True Crime story about the serial killer who stalked the South side of Seattle for many years is quite gripping from page 1 to the end. We are all fascinated with death and mayhem, and this man provided us with plenty of grist for the mill. Our author, who lived in the area during the era, was writing other stories, and going to local readings, but kept up on this story as it developed. Once Gary Ridgway was identified as the Green River Killer, and his picture published, both she and her daughter recognized him as a man who silently watched from the wings as she gave book talks about other murder cases. Her personal involvement in the investigations, and her previous police investigator experience, lend a great deal of credibility to her descriptive accounts of the long investigation's evolution.

What Ann Rule does so successfully throughout her book is humanize the victims, women down on their luck, and/or professional sex workers, putting a face and life story to each of the known victims. We learn the background, the family history and other member's influences on the young women who became prey for this psycho-killer. She does just as well as in giving us insight into the development of the serial killer as predator. We learn about his controlling mother, his ex-wives, his son (who, at the age of 8, was actually taken along for a ride when Gary did away with one girl). In the process, she gets us as involved as she can in the unfolding of the events, the police investigators, her own writing career in the True Crime genre, and all the overlaps between victims. We come into the middle section of the book, hungering to put a face with the names of the characters, and she calmly obliges us with B&W pics of all the major players, in a chronologic order that follows the unfolding of this twenty-two year rampage.

She does an excellent job of characterizing each of the players, the funding of the investigation, the politics behind the police work, and the media's involvement in both reporting the separate incidents and the eventual revelation of the killer's identity. The beauty is in the details, and she gives them to us in such a coherent and consistent style, that we as readers are captivated and tortured. Thankfully, the coup de grace is never administered, and we walk away as humbled and misty-eyed survivors, thankful for our place in family networks that protect us from the monsters that prowl the night... we hope.

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