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).