A review by octavia_cade
Green River, Running Red: The Real Story of the Green River Killer - America's Deadliest Serial Murderer, by Ann Rule

dark sad slow-paced


This is a well-written and exhaustively researched book, but it's been a bit of an odd experience reading it. One that is not altogether palatable, for reasons other than the subject matter, which is vile. It's a question of notoriety, I think. I read true crime occasionally, and I came across this in the library and it'd been a while since I'd read a true crime book so why not, I picked it up. And while I've heard of some of the more famous serial killers, I can't say I'd ever heard of Gary Ridgway before, or his moniker of the Green River Killer. On the one hand that's almost comforting. Why should losers like this have their name known by all and sundry? He probably can't bear the thought of being forgotten, and so while I know his name now, that's not entirely a good thing.

Far more attention, here, is given to his many victims. There's about four dozen of them, and Rule is careful to humanise each of them, giving their names and photographs and backgrounds, the stories of their very short lives. Part of me supports this entirely. They are more important than their murderer. But, and I'm sorry to say this, they also began to blur together. I'm certain that this is not the case for their families, or the investigators, or for Rule. But for me, reading this book, the litany of misery of their lives became repetitive. And the horrible thing is that "repetitive" is the accurate word. Nearly all of these young women had a trouble adolescence that ended in prostitution, and the similarities of their lives, the shared and unhappy histories... I found myself wondering, at times, when Rule would get to the interesting bit. By which I meant, of course, the killer. And then I would feel disgusted with myself and put the book down and try to regain some shred of humanity that's (inevitably?) lost when reading these books, which is why I go a long time between true crime reads. 

I do not envy the people who make investigating these crimes their job. It must be so easy to become numb to the sheer fucking awfulness of it all.