Thursday, January 08, 2009

Green River, Running Red...random thoughts


Okay, I told myself that I was going to be better about reviewing the books I read this year. Not that I would write better reviews, just that I would review more of the books I read. And here I am, procrastinating already. I finished Ann Rule's Green River, Running Red a week ago, but just haven't been motivated to write about it. But since I'm about to finish another book (finally!), I figured I'd better just go ahead and jot down a few thoughts.

I know I've talked before about trying to figure out why I even enjoy reading true crime books, because frankly, on the surface, it just seems a rather morbid way to spend one's time. The best I've been able to figure is that it's the mixture of psychology and police work that intrigues me. Or maybe I should say "used to intrigue me." Because honestly the last couple I've read have not been particularly satisfying reads. And I don't think it's because they were poorly written books; I think it's just that my tastes have changed.

Anyway, about the book. Ann Rule, former police woman, veteran crime reporter, and author of numerous true crime books, tells the story of the Green River murders. It's a story that covered nearly twenty years, and of course, a story that has never ended for the families of the victims. One of the things I love about the way Ann Rule writes her books is the way she brings the victims to life. It's evident that it is the victims of crime that motivate her. In the case of the Green River murders, most of the victims were prostitutes, young women living on the edge of society. Many in the public choose to not think about these women, many even blame these women for their own deaths. But Rule never treats them with anything less than complete respect. She introduces us to these women, and I can't imagine anyone not caring about them after reading their stories.

Rule also greatly respects the work of the detectives involved. She chronicles the exhausting work carried out by so many. Detectives who also cared about the victims and their families. Detectives who often took a lot of abuse from the media for not solving the case for so many years. Detectives whose own lives suffered, physically and mentally, from the overwhelming strain of this case. But Rule wasn't blind to the occasion mistake made in the investigation. She kept it real.

One thing I didn't like about this book was Rule's personal involvement. Now granted, there were times when she really did have a part in something going on. But at times I felt she inserted herself into the story in places where she didn't need to. That it was simply superfluous.

And there was one very big question left hanging for me. Serial killers generally do not slow down. So why after killing nearly 50 women in just a couple years time, did things change? He did not, in fact, stop murdering innocent women, but he certainly did not follow the typical pattern of escalation. It was mentioned that he didn't feel the need to kill as often after he remarried, but that seems a superficial explanation to me. The psychology-junkie in me just wished that had been discussed in more depth.

Okay then, review done for my first read of the year. I can now cross it off my to-do list. And if anyone out there reads true crime and would like my gently used copy, just say so in the comments. (If there's more than one of you, we'll do the old random.org thing).

9 comments:

Dawn said...

I haven't read the book but last year I did watch a movie about the green river murders! I like true crime stories and I think your right, it's the psychology and police work that are intriguing.

take care,
Dawn

bkclubcare said...

Thank you for this. I can really relate to your reviewing style! Yea for a review out of the way - on to the next, right?

Nymeth said...

While I'm not much of a reader of true crime or crime fiction myself, I don't think it's morbid at all! I completely understand wanting to see people both at their best and at their worst in hopes of, well, making more sense of the world in general. Or at least that's my logic :P

Also! I am very happy to hear you'll try to review more of the books you read. That means more Debi reviews, and I love me some Debi reviews :D

Well, off to bed. Final tomorrow morning. Clearly I failed at staying away from the computer, but it really was just 10 minutes. Ish. Someone please shoot me :P

Melody said...

I tend to shy away from true crime fictions although I do enjoy reading crime thrillers. I think it's the reality part that keeps me away from it (not that it's bad but I just couldn't stand some of the horror part in a real crime story).

You've written a wonderful review on this book, Debi! And I love reading it your style! ;)

Eva said...

I've been trying to keep up-to-date on my reviews too (we'll see how long it lasts). And I love how you write your reviews! :)

Anyway, in high school I was all about the true crime TV shows, but now they just upset me. So my taste has definitely changed...just like, I used to enjoy contemporary police procedural-style mysteries, whereas now I only read historical/intellectual (you know-Christie style...I don't know the technical term) ones.

I'm so rambling!

Chris said...

This sounds really good! I have to admit that true crime is one of my chocolate reads. They're guilty pleasures. I have on right now called The Lost Boy that I got awhile back after reading Quix's review of it and I've been waiting forever to read it! Don't know why I haven't picked it up yet. I find these books intriguing too though...I think it's something of a shock that almost reads like a fiction novel because we're incapable of fathoming the evil that some of humanity can possess. It's the psychology of the whole thing.

Debi said...

Dawn and Chris,
Any idea how good it makes me feel that you guys read true crime, too?!! Like I said, I always wonder if there's something "not right" with me for reading it. But now I feel much better. :) And I'm putting both your names in the proverbial hat.

Care,
You mean you like totally haphazard and completely disorganized and lacking in any manner of helpfulness? ;)

Nymeth,
You are entirely too sweet, my dear!

No, there will be no shooting of my wonderful friend!!! Computer addiction is definitely not a offense punishable by shotgun...or else there certainly would be a lot of us walking around with gunshot wounds.

Melody,
You always seem to find the best thrillers! I've got a list a mile long written down from your reviews. :)

Eva,
Well, I should have a much easier time keeping up-to-date with my reviews than you...since I read about tenth as many books! Seriously, I just don't know how you do it...but I'm awfully glad you do! :)

Literary Feline said...

I haven't read much in the way of true crime over the years--only the occasional book and I haven't tried anything by Ann Rule. I do have this book on my shelf to read and someday will get to it. I have heard mixed reviews about this one and so you aren't alone in being a bit disappointed.

I think part of the lure for me and stories like this is the wanting a better understanding if the why of it all. Not to mention I'm fascinated by the investigation process.

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