- Mass Market Paperback: 512 pages
- Publisher: Onyx; First Edition edition (March 5, 1991)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0451402391
- ISBN-13: 978-0451402394
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.4 x 6.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 67 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #715,268 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Search for the Green River Killer Mass Market Paperback – March 5, 1991
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From Publishers Weekly
This reckoning of the deaths of almost 50 women in Seattle is distressing not only for the gruesomeness of the crimes but also for reasons probably not intended by Smith and Guillen, who reported on the murders for the Seattle Times. The descriptions of decomposed corpses are nauseating, and the blundering and so far unsuccessful police attempts to find the murderer are irksome. Readers are likely to be equally angered by accounts of how the media hampered the investigation by meddling in it and exploiting it, and by a nagging sense that this book is just one more example of that exploitation. Unable to secure the cooperation of two primary police investigators (who wouldn't comment because the cases are still open), the authors rely on sources as diverse as an FBI agent, a psychic who is investigating the cases on her own and a former suspect with a demonstrated ability for manipulating the media. Moreover, the book offers abundant chaff with the wheat as when, for example, it discusses unrelated murders committed in Canada and Hawaii. Maps.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
This is the first book about the investigation--so far unsuccessful--of the worst case of serial murder in American history. Beginning in 1982 with the discovery of the first victims in the Green River near Seattle, at last count 49 young women--almost all prostitutes or teenage runaways--have been murdered. Despite a massive effort, police have uncovered no good suspects, due in large measure to the victims' soliciting behavior. The killer may have stopped for whatever reason or possibly moved--similar serial murders have occurred in Portland, Oregon, and San Diego. The authors are Seattle journalists in command of their material, and the result is a cut above the typical mass market paperback original. Recommended for true crime collections.
- Gregor A. Preston, Univ. of California Lib., Davis
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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This book chronicles all the Green River Killer's murders, and the ensuing investigation, including the time a witness led the police to the murderer's house, only to have the police ignore the tip.
Most of the events happen early in the history of serial killer science and advanced forensics, but the book paints a damning story on police incompetence.
This book has been updated to include the subsequent capture, confession, and sentencing of the serial killer more than a decade after the task force hunting him had all but disbanded. It was advanced in DNA science that eventually led to his capture, not any brilliant deductive work, despite the police having had ample clues almost from the start.
This book is a very good read. It does lack something, though, which is why I stopped at 4 stars. I think it tries, but fails, to humanize the victims, falling into the same bias of considering prostitutes as things.
And I've read several books about this case, some terrific and some, well, not so terrific. "The Riverman: Ted Bundy and I Hunt for the Green River Killer" -- probably more about Mr. Bundy than Gary Ridgway but a terrific read by Robert Keppel -- "Chasing the Devil: My Twenty-Year Quest to Capture the Green River Killer" -- good but probably overly self-congratulatory by Dave Reichert (I think he overvalued his importance to the investigation most likely) -- and "Green River Running Red" -- an absolutely dismal effort by Ann Rule when she was still a good enough writer that she should've known better. And now I've read "The Search for the Green River Killer: The True Story of America's Most Prolific Serial Killer" (SGRK).
Well, kind of.
You see, I've only read about three-fourths of SGRK, more than I probably should have, and have finally given up. While it is surely well written -- I believe the authors were newspaper men in their day, after all -- the biggest problem: it spends too much of its time discussing the politics in Seattle while hunting for the Green River Killer (GRK) and not enough time discussing the murders, MO, and maybe even signature, of Gary Ridgway. And while Mr. Ridgway wasn't arrested until the early 2000s following a DNA match on a victim, it is not necessary to have a suspect to know his MO and signature. After all, profilers determine and use that information during the initial part of an investigation in order to build a profile of the UNSUB. And then that profile is generally used for many purposes, but one important one: it helps narrow the suspect list to a manageable number. Maybe the Seattle Police Department should have built a decent profile right out of the gate. But then again, maybe the writers of this book should have written a book that held my interest.
And all of this is really a shame as SGRK starts out very well, but somewhere around the mid-point you might think to yourself, "You know, I really don't care about these politics anymore. What I really want to know: who were the victims and what did the police do to try to catch the killer?" Yes, maybe it shows that the politicians in Seattle were political, and maybe it shows that the police department were incompetent police officers, but after awhile I just didn't care anymore.
I still would like to find a really good book about strictly the Green River Killer case that is mostly about that serial killer, and so far, Mr. Keppel's is the best for me out of those I've read But once again, that book is mostly about Mr. Bundy and somewhat about the GRK so it's kind of a "combo" effort as it discusses both "The Ted Murders" and "The Green River Killer." I still highly recommend it though as Mr. Keppel's books are always really strong.
Well, if you're a true-crime aficianado like I am, and in particular, if you like reading books about serial killers, I'll have to go with a pass today on "The Search for the Green River Killer." I could've probably finished it. But why?