Friday, 9 March 2018

Book Review: Green River, Running Red by Ann Rule

Ann Rule covers one of the most profilic serial killers in American history – a case involving more than forty-nine female victims and spanning over two decades of intense investigative work.

“Prostitution is a profession born of desperation, poverty, alienation and loneliness.” 

Well, this one was a mixed bag. It’s very clear from the beginning that Rule tries to use this novel as a way of humanising all of the Green River Killer’s victims. With the introduction of each victim, there is a small picture included as well as some back story on their life prior to it being cut short by Gary Ridgway. Some victims are covered in great detail, others are covered in a couple of lines, it really depends on what Rule was able to find out through interviews with family members and husbands/boyfriends etc. And I appreciated this, I really did. It’s very easy to think of these girls as just a name on Ridgway’s victim list, when they were actual human beings with hopes and dreams and families, struggling through a tough phase in their lives. However, on the flip-side, given the sheer magnitude of Ridgway’s victim pool, this can become quite monotonous and repetitive after a while. Especially when Rule, for some reason, deems it important to tell us how attractive each victim was, or her weight. HONESTLY. It’s very clear from the get-go that Ridgway does not have a type, unlike Bundy who targeted attractive brunettes with a centre parting in their hair. Therefore, the inclusion of such details felt very unnecessary and just removed me from what I was reading. We had a picture of each girl to refer to, we didn’t need any further expansion on physical characteristics – anyway, rant over!

The story itself was very disjointed at times – Rule would cover some of the victims, then jump over to Ridgway’s childhood, then jump over to the investigative team (again, giving us unnecessary details about each individual that I could not care any less about) and then jump back again. This was particularly jarring when I was really interested in learning more about Ridgway and his history, and she’d just cut me off and start talking about some guy retiring from the investigative team and some other guy taking over. I DON’T CARE.

I feel like I’ve been harsh so far, so it’s time to cover some aspects I did like… I just really enjoy Rule’s writing. It’s nice and easy reading, which is required when you’re reading true crime, I feel. We’re here for the facts, we’re here for good detailed coverage of different serial killers or crimes, we don’t need flowery language or beautiful prose (although Ann does try her hand at this at times when describing different landscapes etc – which is fine, it doesn’t bother me). She gives us little snapshots of Ridgway’s childhood and growing up, and his previous marriages, and these are REALLY interesting. Then towards the end of the book, when she covers his eventual capture and interrogation, this is when it gets SO GOOD I CAN’T STOP. I just wish more of the book was as addictive as this section.

Overall, this book really could have, and should have, been shorter. It’s still a mostly enjoyable read if you’re interested in learning more about Ridgway and his heinous crimes. 3 stars out of 5 for me!


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