Serial killers are already a tradition in the US. A museum* could be opened about it and it will be a success, with letters, weapons, police evidence, photos, and even recreated crime scenes. The museum store will be so funny, with clothes, kitchen knives, scissors, handcuffs, body silhouette t-shirts, and of course books. Tons of none authorized biographies, stories, interviews, etc.
No surprise, books are all over, and if you’re not fan it’s impossible to read some, because the long and detailed way to tell the story, from the childhood trough the adolescence and the killing years, even the post five, ten o more years after. Some books will tell you the facts, some will question your logic, and some will try to enter the killers mind.
The green river killer, one of most devastating killers in US history, has of course many books to learn about him, why he turned that way, why and how he did it, etc. But there’s one so special that even if you’re not into serial killers you will enjoy, and basically because three mayor differences: One, it’s a graphic novel, so it can be as crude and hard as you imagine, or naïve; but you will find the art so precise for this project, so accurate in the mood it presents, you will stand and bow. Two, it’s not a historic investigation, documentation or biography; it’s a novel, a piece of literary art. And three, the author is son of the detective responsible for the green river killer case, so you can imagine how unique his perspective is.
As I said, we’re not talking about an investigator or a journalist here, motivated to search the deepest secrets not even the police found in the decades the case was open. This is a son expressing his dad chimera. What he lived in family talks and what he saw at home all those years. In a way this is homage to his dad of course, something not usually cover by serial killer writers, who turn their attention to the killers and just in rarely cases to the agents responsible for their apprehension. Maybe just in that cases where the relationship among them was special or determinant in the case, or when the killer search and defy those agents. But in general, few it’s said about the police enforcements who case serial killers.
After reading the book, you don’t know what to think about his dad, should we be thankful or pity him? Is he an admirable man or a lost detective immersing in a nightmare? Also, the narrative is so pretty, you won’t see many killing action, and you will not learn every little detail about this killer and/or his ways, just the hard numbers, but the editing will give you the sense of despair his dad felt during all those years, you will empathize with detective Tom Jensen and you’ll ask yourself why he didn’t do this or that? How could he stand it? There wasn’t any other way to tell this particular perspective of the story, a graphic novel was and is the best. The result is a master piece.
Also, I cannot think in any other better way to picture Gary Leon Ridgway, the murderer, as it is done in this novel. Laconic and disturbing; in just a few vignettes his nature it’s clear and mysterious at the same time; impossible to understand but just contemplate in a simple and crude form. You also will have a hard time trying not to find out more about the case after you end the book. How he get away all those years?
Conclusion, read it, enjoy the art, the expressions, feelings and day-to-day life of detective Jensen trough the mind of his son and the art of Case are without doubt a perfect combo. For sure Jensen was grateful and satisfied with the work of Case. As personal experience I visualize this man, detective Tom Jensen, as a hero, as one of those man we all should thank for their sacrifice and their search for a better world.
*In a related story, there is a Serial Killer Museum, called in fact Museo Criminale Serial Killer e Pena di Morte, in Florence, Italy. A museum that offers the visitor detailed biography, facts and legends of crime and serial killers from the Medioevo to present day. Not the common tourist attraction in Florence, but nonetheless one to keep in mind.