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Green River, Running Red: The Real Story of the Green River Killer--America's Deadliest Serial Murderer Mass Market Paperback – September 27, 2005

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Editorial Reviews Review

Veteran crime writer Ann Rule is uniquely qualified to chronicle the grisly career of Gary Ridgeway, the man convicted of being the "Green River Killer," the most prolific serial killer in American history. Not only is she one of the more successful true-crime authors, but for nearly 20 years, Rule was exceptionally close to the case, reporting on it for a Seattle newspaper, preparing a long-delayed book on the subject, and living within a few blocks of the strip of highway where most of Ridgeway's victims were abducted. In Green River, Running Red, Rule lends unique humanity to the string of murders that haunted the Seattle area throughout the '80s and '90s by exploring the lives of the dozens of young women who fell into prostitution and were ultimately murdered. Similarly, she catalogues Ridgeway's troubled and bizarre life in such a way that the reader becomes uncomfortably familiar with Ridgeway, although it's never truly clear what drove him to commit such heinous crimes. Along the way, she traces the decades-long struggle of the law enforcement officials assigned to the case as they tracked down countless leads, questioned innumerable suspects, and explored multiple theories that came up empty before finally cracking the case through a series of technological advancements and a little luck. But the most disturbing aspect of the Green River killings (named for where the first victims were found) is how they occurred in relatively plain sight, with Ridgeway, seemingly living an unremarkable life, dwelling and working within a few miles of where his lengthy killing spree took place and evading capture for years. Rule skillfully weaves herself into her account, relating the psychic and cultural impact of the case as it evolved, but she never takes the spotlight off Ridgeway, his eventual captors, and the women who died at his hands.--John Moe --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

When best-selling true-crime author Rule began tracking a series of murders taking place, by morbid coincidence, in her own southwest Seattle neighborhood, she said she caught herself referring to the female victims as numbers, based on the sequence of their disappearances. "I was horrified when that dawned on me," she admitted. "I never wanted to do that again." And so in detailing the grim story of Seattle's Green River killings--from the discovery of the body of Wendy Lee Coffield in July 1982 to the sentencing of truck painter Gary Ridgway last November on 48 counts of murder--Rule devotes most of her book neither to Ridgway nor to the noble efforts of law-enforcement officials to catch him, but focuses, instead, on the victims themselves. These women, most of them prostitutes, were victims even before their deaths--of disconnected home lives, of misplaced trust in boyfriends (who often pimped them on Seattle's notorious Pac HiWay), of their own need to rebel against their pain. Interweaving her individual profiles of the murdered women with the story of Ridgway and the officials who caught him (presciently swabbing his mouth years before DNA testing would finally give him away), Rule gives full, heartbreaking emotional weight to what America's most notorious serial killer truly wrought. A must for the author's legions of fans. Alan Moores
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Star; Reprint edition (October 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743460502
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743460507
  • Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 1.6 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (230 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,081 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I am an author of true-crime books, and I'm now working on my 25th and 26th: NO REGRETS and TOO LATE TO SAY GOODBYE. I have lived in the Seattle Area for many years. Before that, I grew up in Michigan and Pennsylvania, and lived in Texas, Oregon, and near Niagara Falls, N.Y. I always wanted to be a police officer--because my grandfather was a sheriff in Michigan. I joined the Seattle Police Department when I was 21, worked a year and a half, but then I couldn't pass the eye test. After five years of rejection slips, I finally sold my first article for $35! Soon, I found my niche when I began writing for the fact-detective magazines like TRUE DETECTIVE in 1970, and I wrote more than a thousand homicide cases, and went to hundreds of trials. My first book, THE STRANGER BESIDE ME, was about Ted Bundy, but, amazingly, I had the book contract to write about an unknown killer six months before Bundy was identified as the "Ted Killer." And I had known him all along, and didn't realize it; he was my partner in the all-night shift at Seattle's Crisis Clinic! Oddly, I started out writing humor, but unless you are Erma Bombeck, Garrison Keillor, or Fanny Flagg or Dave Barry, it's hard to make a living. Now I write humor for fun and for my friends.

I graduated in Creative Writing from the U of Washington, with minors in criminology and psychology. I also have an AA degree in law enforcement, taking classes in crime scene investigation, arrest, search and seizure, crime scene photography and forensic science. I've lectured in seminars all across America to detectives, prosecutors, and even at the FBI Academy. My subjects have been serial murder, high profile offenders, and women who kill. I write two books every year--one hardcover single-case book, and one Ann Rule's True Crime Files original paperback. Although people tend to think I write only about the Northwest, I go wherever the cases are most interesting. I've written about murder cases in Florida, Georgia, New York, Kansas, Texas, Hawaii, and California, too.

I raised five children on my own--starting out with articles for baby care magazines, Sunday features, true confessions, and then "slicks" like Cosmopolitan, Ladies' Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, and Reader's Digest. Now, my children are grown.

I like to keep in very close touch with my readers, and I'm able to do that with a weblog and a guestbook on my website pages at This also gives readers a chance to talk with each other, and its' a pretty lively spot--as I'm sure this page will be.

To choose a book subject, I weed through about 3,000 suggestions from readers. I'm looking for an "anti-hero" whose eventual arrest shocks those who knew him (or her): attractive, brilliant, charming, popular, wealthy, talented, and much admired in their communities--but really hiding behind masks.

I'm a reader myself, and I always have several books going at once--one upstairs, downstairs, near the bathtub, in my car, and beside my hammock (in the summer, of course!)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

101 of 105 people found the following review helpful By Bucky VINE VOICE on November 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Ann Rule waited 20 years to write this book, until the GRK was caught, and it was well worth the wait. The first half of the book is devoted to the victims: desperate women, many of them drug addicts and/or emotionally fragile, most of them uneducated and living on the fringes of society. She draws sensitive, compelling portraits of these young women, too many of them still in their teens, living a hard existance. They had families, children in some cases, and friends who loved and cared for them. They weren't just faceless nobodies, walking the streets, not caring about themselves and their families. Many of them wanted to escape the life they were living, but could see no way out. These poor, victimized women are worthy of the reader's attention not just as some kind of object lesson, but as human beings engaged in a very real tragic struggle.

The victims also offer some insight into the nature of their killer: a marginalized, banal little man who got his kicks murdering defenseless women desperate enough to get into a vehicle with a total stranger on the mere promise of 30 or 40 dollars. Ann Rule introduces us to him slowly at first with brief snapshot-like depictions of his childhood and early adult years. Then in the second half of the book, readers come face to face with this meaningless individual whose primary interest in life (aside from murder) was collecting and hoarding other people's junk. He is, it turns out, no fiendish genius, no Hannibal Lecter, just an inconsequential man who hates women and can only feel important when he is taking someone's life. I cannot even imagine how the law enforcement officers charged with interrogating him could stand to be in the same room with him.
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80 of 87 people found the following review helpful By J. Martin on December 7, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Having written such true crime standards as "The Stranger Beside Me" and "Small Sacrifices," Ann Rule long ago established herself as one of the brightest stars of her genre. Her best work shines in its detail, moves along quickly, and reads almost like fiction rather than cold fact.

In "Green River Running Red," though, Rule takes her eye off the ball and spends less time (a LOT less time) telling us about Green River Killer Gary Ridgeway than about his dozens of victims. Yes, it's a noble cause to give these young women an identity beyond 'known prostitute' or 'Jane Doe #4.' But in spending literally hundreds of pages on mini biographies, Rule can't help but make them seem, well, boring. As reported in `Green River Running Red,' there's a downbeat, dreary sameness to the lives of the killer's victims. They have, for the most part, unhappy childhoods and incapable parents. They become estranged from their families. They drop out of school. They get into drugs. They hang out with losers and, eventually, fall into prostitution. They're busted a few times. They live in motels. Finally, they meet Gary Ridgeway, and their sad lives come to an abrupt, violent end. Wading through hundreds of pages of "She was a beautiful, intelligent, well-liked girl," you get the feeling that Rule isn't giving you much credit. After all, these women don't HAVE to have been beautiful or well-liked for their lives to have had value. If we have any humanity at all, we're already on their side, and we're horrified by Gary Ridgeway. In spending SO much time telling the victims' stories, Rule simultaneously sugarcoats their lives and underestimates her readers.
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48 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Carrie on October 31, 2004
Format: Hardcover
As a person who has read all of Ann's books, I didn't find this one of her best. Satisfaction in this book is largely dependent on what draws a reader to true crime. I for one am interested in the killers and what makes them tick. This book gave a tremendous amount of attention to the victims and their background stories. I mean no disrespect to the victims, and I certainly empathize with them and their families, it's just that the detailed aspects of the victim's lives felt over-done for my taste. I realize that Ann was trying not to glamorize Ridgeway at the expense of his victims, however I feel she went a little overboard. Ann is a true crime writer not a victims right's advocate. She should therefore write her books accordingly.

On the other hand the second part of her book that focused more on Ridgeway, the people in his life and the investigation of the killings was excellent. The latter half of the book was more in keeping with the Ann Rule style I have come to know and love over the years.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By KDMask VINE VOICE on January 13, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Unlike some of the previous reviewers, I found this book to be both interesting and engaging. If you have followed Ann Rule's work over the years, you know she has been waiting for (and working on) this book but was unable to do so because the killer had not yet been caught. I've read other books on the GRK and found this one to be the perfect book 'end' to the story.

I find it refreshing that she focused on the victims, who were for the most part, faceless "hookers" to much of the population while these crimes were happening. I also liked the way the narrative went from crime to killer; weaving time together for the reader. I wanted to read this book precisely because Ms Rule was so involved. I enjoyed the fact that she'd been to the scenes and met the key players. As a true crime reader, I put this near the top of my list.
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