Book review: Green River, Running Red by Ann Rule

Caidyn's review (1)
Green River, Running Red: The Real Story of the Green River Killer - America's Deadliest Serial Murderer


TW: serial murders and mentions of strangulation, dismemberment, and necrophilia (although not in graphic detail)

Never in my life did I ever think I’d put the word “necrophilia” on this blog, but here we are today. Welcome to talking about true crime and serial killers. Today, it’s Gary Ridgway, also known as the Green River Killer.

He was active from 1982 to 1988 (but it’s speculated he could have killed up to his capture) and confessed to killing 71 women. He was convicted of killing 49 after pleading guilty. I won’t get into what he did, but he mainly picked up high risk targets (i.e. sex workers and hitchhikers).

I’ve been on a huge serial killer kick, so when I saw one of the libraries I have a card to had this as an e-copy, I scooped it up. The only other book I’ve read by Ann Rule is The Stranger Beside Me, her magnum opus about Ted Bundy. Admittedly, I DNFed that book because it was too long and meandering.

This one is about the same. It’s over 650 pages long and felt far too much. But it covers everything that you might want to know, focusing mainly on Ridgway’s victims. I liked that. I liked that the victims and their lives weren’t forgotten. She didn’t get too in depth about what Ridgway did to his victims (another nice thing if you don’t want to read gore) but it was chilling.

While reading this, I watched A&E’s “The Killing Season”, a documentary series about the Long Island Serial Killer and other unsolved serial murders along the east coast. It was so interesting to watch it and then read this book, knowing about this subset of missing people that we don’t even know are missing, called “the missing missing.”

It made me think of this book because of the targets for serial killers. They’re called high-risk targets because they lead high-risk lives. Sex work (and by that I mean sex work on the streets and those who advertise on websites like Craigslist or Backpages, both of which are gone now and were important vetting sites — but, another time and place for my issue with how sex workers are vilified), drug users, runaways, hitchhikers, etc. Basically, those who might not even be noticed if they were suddenly gone. Those who have no one to file that missing person’s report. Those who will never be truly missed except by the people who love them.

While this book isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, it’s important because it shows what’s wrong with policing the people who need the most help. Police officers are feared because they threaten, arrest, and even rape those just trying to get by. And they offer no way out of that life. Then they go missing and, well, who cares? One less thing that we need to “clean up.”

At the end, it also shows how the police in this area changed their approach and perhaps help prevent future crimes like this. In other words, this book is a long and hard read, but it’s rewarding because it shows there are ways to reform.

Talk to me!
Do you have a favorite true crime novel?
Are you thinking to yourself “Caidyn, please keep this one murdery interest to yourself”?

14 thoughts on “Book review: Green River, Running Red by Ann Rule

  1. Fantastic review! I’d wondered about this one before. Stranger Beside Me is the only Ann Rule book I’ve read, I liked it well enough but I think I really have to be interested to read something so long on one of these cases. But I don’t know much about the Gary Ridgway story and I love when a true crime focuses on the victims, so maybe will have to get around to this one! I really liked the Killing Season, the Long Island case fascinates me. If you haven’t already you should read Robert Kolker’s Lost Girls about the victims in that case – one of my favorite true crimes, it’s extraordinary writing about each of the women’s lives.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you!! I’m going to try Stranger Beside Me in August, I think. You should give it a try! I’ll be interested in seeing your thoughts about it since it’s an interesting book. And, I tried reading Lost Girls but wasn’t in the mood. Maybe I’ll try it again since I want to know more about LISK!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lost Girls is a bit of a slow burn, and definitely not as thrilling as most true crime is but I found it so unnerving and eerie, and the writing just gripped me. Definitely give it another try, especially if you like stories giving some portrait of victims and obviously about LISK!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I know, I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of googling stuff about that case many a time! It’s just so entrancing. I’ve been there too, to the Gilgo beach area, it’s really eerie.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Too many!!! I guess I really like cold cases. Have you seen the show Disappeared? Everything that’s unsolved there is pretty intriguing. But I think the LISK story is the most interesting, and everything connected to it, like the four in Atlantic City. Also the Chillicothe missing women, I can’t remember if they included those on the Killing Season. It’s also a weird story, there was a docuseries about it a couple of years ago.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Cold cases are really interesting. I really like the old cold cases where there’s basically no hope with finding out the truth (like with the Somerton Man, Black Dahlia, Jack the Ripper, etc) so there are all these theories. I haven’t seen Disappeared, but I’ve heard of it! It is interesting, all of it. It’s hard to name a most interesting case since so many new ones crop up.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Same, those are all fascinating ones! I forgot to mention the Maura Murray case, have you heard of that one? She went missing and was never found, she’s pretty much presumed dead but there’s a very compelling case for her having engineered her own disappearance from her life to start a new one. There’s a good book about it called True Crime Addict and an episode of Disappeared, there was a short docuseries about it last year (but I didn’t love that one) and tons of rabbit-hole type material online if you’re in the mood for it ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s not old like the other ones you mentioned but it’s one of those with a maddening amount of theories and possibilities.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Her name sounds really familiar to me but even after reading a bit about her case, I can’t place why. It sounds crazy and, as with all unsolved missing person cases, there are all sorts of theories.


  2. I’ve been tossing up whether to read this one – the main reason I liked Stranger Beside Me was because of the haunting personal insights that Ann Rule had, but this does sound really interesting and I really agree with your points about sex workers. I would recommend trying to get through to the end of Stranger Beside Me if you can just because the section with the court case was (to me at least!) really interesting and gave a lot of insight into Ted Bundy and public perceptions of him. I definitely think that Ann Rule would have benefitted from a bit more editing though, the pacing was all over the place.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the comment! I enjoyed this book because it was about a case I didn’t know too much about. And so much of it is shocking. Like, how did he get away with it for so long and things like that.

      But, I put a hold on Stranger Beside Me and it should be in at my library tomorrow, so I’ll try it again! From what I remember, it really was all over the place like you said.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: July Wrap-up – BW Reviews

  4. Pingback: Book review – The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule – BW Reviews

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