Review: Green River Killer: A True Detective Story

What makes a serial killer kill? For fans of Showtime’s Dexter, this is a familiar question, as Dexter offsets his philosophical musings about humanities collective, “dark passenger,” with the stark brutality of cold-blooded murder. Dark Horse’s graphic novel, Green River Killer a True Detective Story, poses this same question except from the point of view of a cop who has been chasing one serial killer for over 20 years. Read on for the skinny….

grk1 WRITTEN BY: Jeff Jensen
ILLUSTRATIONS BY: Jonathan Case
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse
RELEASE: Out now!

From Dark Horse:“The story of one of America’s most notorious killers is revealed in this true-crime comic unlike any other!

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. 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 spent 180 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 writer Jeff Jensen, Green River Killer: A True Detective Story presents the ultimate insider’s account of America’s most prolific serial killer.”

grk2

Written by Jeff Jensen, the son of the detective protagonist, GRK is a chilling look into a side of humanity that is not deep, dark, mysterious and completely romanticized (cough*Dexter*cough), but frighteningly shallow and absent. Portrayed as taking place over a series of interviews paired with flashbacks to memories of fresh crime scenes, GRK makes the reader grapple with the same frustrations as the protagonist, who after chasing the killer for over 20 years is suddenly face to face with not some criminal mastermind, but someone who is decidedly subhuman, someone who has stolen the lives of countless mothers, daughters and sisters for seemingly no reason.

As the protagonist pushes the killer to confess his crimes, to explain his motives, to reveal some way of understanding the atrocities, the reader is drawn into this brilliantly written and illustrated black and white graphic novel. Jensen’s superb dialogue and Jonathan Case’s artwork combine to implant the story, as well as the same question that obsesses the protagonist, into the head of the reader. At times I was unsure if they had the right killer, but the question of guilt quickly fades as it is replaced by the omnipresent question of why? I will not spoil the ending of this graphic novel, but I highly recommend that anyone who wants to keep themselves up at night not reliving gristly murders (although the details of the crimes are EXTREMELY heinous, more so because they are based on real events), but instead pondering a portrait of humanity stripped down to something so lacking it will make you shudder, should pick up this graphic novel.

5 out of 5 skulls