The manhunt for the Green River Killer lasted 20 years, during which time he strangled as many as 70 women in the Seattle area. He dumped their bodies in the woods, sometimes coming back to have sex with the corpses. But it's not just the story of the worst serial killer in US history that makes Green River Killer such a harrowing and fascinating graphic novel. Green River is also the story of author Jeff Jensen's father—a King County police officer who worked the case for two decades, desperately trying to track down the murderer of so many people's daughters.
Jensen crafts a loving biography to his father, Tom Jensen, who devoted nearly all of his law enforcement career to hunting Gary Leon Ridgway, a bland-seeming middle-aged man who killed so many women he would "get them all jumbled up" in his confession. Tom was a hard-working, highly organized cop in the burglary unit when he was given the opportunity to join the Green River Task Force in 1983—he hesitantly signed on, not knowing how involved he would get in the search for Ridgway, even after the task force shut down in 1990. Through intricate flashbacks and chronology-jumping panels, Jeff Jensen and Portland artist Jonathan Case vividly follow Tom's progress, unrelenting and driven in his quest to unearth answers about the Green River Killer's sick impulses.
Throughout Green River Killer, Jensen and Ridgway's lives mirror each other with visual cues, especially once the task force is given the opportunity to interview the incarcerated Ridgway in 2003—in a process that lasts 188 days, in a secret bunker where law enforcement lived in tandem with the killer. Tom eats quick takeout burgers at home, eager to get back to the bunker—while Gary lingers over the same meal in his room on an officer's loaner mattress. But the difference between the men is stark, as evidenced in an unsuccessful outing to find one of Ridgway's dumped bodies. Ridgway says, "I'm sorry, Detective Jensen. I guess there's a lot that I've forgotten over the past 20 years." Jensen responds, "It's been 20 years for me, too... and I haven't forgotten anything." The terrific Green River Killer is the engaging tale of Tom Jensen, a man who just won't quit, and on the flipside, a dark portrait of a twisted killer who just can't stop.