Friday, July 01, 2016

Booknote: Green River Killer

Jeff Jensen, Green River Killer: a True Detective Story. Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse Books, 2011.   ISBN: 978-1-59582-560-5.

Genre: graphic novels and comics
Subgenre: true crime, biography, serial killers
Format: hardback
Source: Berea branch of the Madison County (KY) Public Library

This is the story of the Green River Killer, a serial killer that terrorized Seattle in the late 1960s and 1970s. It is also the story of the detective charged with capturing the killer. It took over 20 years to finally clear the case, and Detective Tom Jensen did the job in full, even long after his police department closed down the initial task force charged with solving the case.

The story is told by the detective's son, Jeff Jensen, a journalist. The story's narrative goes from the end when Tom is interrogating the killer and goes back and forth between the past and the present. When the killer was caught, Tom spent 188 days interviewing the killer to gain closure and answers. What Tom learned was a story of evil and horror. The narrative thus goes from the interrogation to the killer's memories recreating the scenes of his crimes. Along the way, we also get a bit of Tom Jensen's biography.

This is a story that initially draws you in right away. It starts with a very haunting opening sequence. From there, the story builds up. Over time as we read, we experience a bit of the frustration Tom may have felt: as the killer confesses, he holds back; he is evasive at times and claims not to remember certain details. It can be a bit exasperating, but it is also part of the story. The author takes us through the quotidian details of solving the case one clue at a time. Tom Jensen basically spent his career chasing the killer, and we get to be there for the ride.

The imagery and art are good in this volume. We do get some of the crime scenes so we can see the horror, but the art is well drawn; it is not as gruesome as some horror artist might have done. Yet in that simple restraint we can imagine the true horror. The art is in black and white, which adds to a sense of the past, looking back in time.

I'd say this book is another example of the good things that can be done in the graphic novel format. This is a riveting, suspenseful, and at times a bit slow or frustrating read (much like the detective must have felt at times). If you enjoy reading in the true crime genre, this is a good selection. This is a good selection for libraries too but do keep in mind this is for older readers.

4 out of 5 stars.

This book qualifies for the following 2016 Reading Challenges:

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