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Green River, Running Red: The Real Story of the Green River Killer--America's Deadliest Serial Murderer [Mass Market Paperback]

Ann Rule
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 27 2005
In her most personal and provocative book to date, the #1 bestselling master of true crime presents "her long-awaited definitive narrative of the brutal and senseless crimes that haunted the Seattle area for decades" (Publishers Weekly). This is the extraordinary true story of the most prolific serial killer the nation had ever seen -- a case involving more than forty-nine female victims, two decades of intense investigative work...and one unrelenting killer who not only attended Ann Rule's book signings but lived less than a mile away from her home.

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Green River, Running Red: The Real Story of the Green River Killer--America's Deadliest Serial Murderer + Fatal Friends, Deadly Neighbors: Ann Rule's Crime Files Volume 16
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Product Description

From Amazon

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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First Sentence
FOR DECADES, Tukwila, Kent, Auburn, Des Moines, and Federal Way depended on the Pac HiWay for their commercial sustenance, entertainment, and transportation to either Seattle or Tacoma. Read the first page
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Anthony
Format:Mass Market Paperback
When I now see fictional characters like Hannibal Lecter pass lie detector tests I always think of the Green River Killer who's name I'll leave a mystery for the few still out there who don't know who he is.

This is one of the strangest investigations in modern criminology with more twists and turns than any fiction.

A true human tragedy.
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By Ty2K
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Of the many books and articles surrounding Gary Ridgeway/The Green River Killer this book is possibly the best and most comprehensive and complete account of this captivating and sad case. I have actually re-read this book twice since reading it for the first time in 2012. Its a page turner, written in the proven and classic style of Ann Rule, my only complaint is that its not longer than the 700+ pages it is. Your left wishing (yet happy there isn't) there was more to tell.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Green River Killer Jan. 25 2014
By chris
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Anne is a master at writing about the evil that lurks out there. Very well written and researched. Highly recommend.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  181 reviews
90 of 94 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkably sensitive, very well-written Nov. 27 2004
By Bucky - Published on Amazon.com
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.

The contrasts between the two halves of this book are illuminating and remarkable. It is well worth reading as a study of a killer and his victims. It is also quite well written and readers will have no trouble becoming absorbed in Ann Rule's fluid and evocative prose. Readers looking for a sensationalized account of lurid murders and street life will be disappointed, I'm afraid. Readers looking for a more in-depth examination of this series of murders, the victims involved, and how the tenor of the times enabled the killer to carry out his crimes for so long without being caught, will find this book well worth the time and money.
71 of 78 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good Writer, Mediocre Book Dec 7 2006
By J. Martin - Published on Amazon.com
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.
There are other flaws with Green River Running Red, too, most of which spring from the author's coziness with the Seattle locale and the cops investigating the murders. Not only does Ann Rule insert herself rather inappropriately into the story (telling us, among other things, of tips that come her way from the public and of her own speaking engagements that have nothing to do with the case), but, in detailing her relationships with the police, she obliterates any sense of objectivity toward their work in catching the killer. At times, Rule comes off as more cheerleader than reporter.

Keep in mind, this book is not about Ann Rule and her friends' involvement with the case of Gary Ridgeway. It's a story in which she shouldn't be a character at all, but occasionally sees fit to say, "By the way, I know this guy! We're pals!" The problem with this sort of lapse of detachment, of course, is that we don't get a sense of truth and accuracy. As heroic as the officers on the Green River Task Force may have been - and they truly were - Rule can't portray them as anything less than perfect.

This is never more clear than in Rule's retelling of the Task Force's early interest in Ridgeway. When traces of a rare auto paint found on three of the victims point the police to the truck painting shop where Ridgeway works (the only shop within thousands of miles to use this paint), he becomes a `favorite' suspect among some in the task force. This occurs in the 80s - years before Ridgeway's eventual arrest - and a few years AFTER he first pops up as a suspect. So, did the police drop the ball at this point? Or did they feel that they had their man but couldn't quite prove it? Well, Rule isn't saying. Leaving such a question dangling in the minds of her readers does leave the impression that she didn't want to go there.

To be sure, there will be other books written on the Green River Killer. As with books inspired by other sensational crimes, most will invariably be shoddy, poorly written and barely researched. This book will outshine those, and will probably prove to be the definitive report on this particular case. But, given her back catalog and her familiarity with this turf, it's a wonder indeed that Ann Rule couldn't come up with something better than it is.
43 of 48 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Emphasis on Victims Oct. 31 2004
By Carrie - Published on Amazon.com
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.
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars too much of an Ann Rule memoir Feb. 5 2006
By D. MacGowan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Ann Rule is one of the most infuriating writers of any genre. When she puts her mind to it, she can certainly write true crime well, but this book suffers from a heavier dose of E.A.R.S. (Excessive Ann Rule Syndrome) than her other writings, and she always manages to inappropriately abruptly stop the flow of her narrative to put herself into whatever she is writing about.

Also, her research at times is faulty, to say the least. I read the paperback version of this book -- which presumably would have given her time to correct errors from the hardback edition -- and she still, in the afterword, places the infamous Scott Peterson on death row "in Alcatraz", which has not been used as a prison since the early 1960s. Peterson is, of course, in San Quentin State Prison, but the reader is left to wonder: if Rule got this fact wrong, how many other inaccuracies are in this book?
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book Worth Waiting For... Jan. 13 2007
By KDMask - Published on Amazon.com
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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