By Ben Paynter
Jeff Jensen is perhaps best known for his fun, geektastic reviews in Entertainment Weekly, but the scribe’s latest foray into writing is a much more grim affair.
In his new graphic novel Jensen, whose exegeses of Lost helped earn him the nickname Doc, has tackled the role his father played in one of the most plot-twisty manhunts ever.
In Green River Killer: A True Detective Story, which came out earlier this week, Jensen mines his own legacy (and police files) to tell the story of Tom Jensen’s relationship with a serial strangler.
Gary Leon Ridgway was at large around Seattle for two decades and murdered at least 48 women before being identified by a DNA sample in 2001; the graphic novel picks up after his arrest, when Ridgway partnered with the elder Jensen, a detective on the case, to find as-yet unrecovered victims.
While Jeff Jensen tells the tale, artist Jonathan Case keeps things suspenseful, downplaying the too-easy-to-go-there moments of gore and violence in favor of panels that highlight more honestly what really made the whole investigation so creepy: The very ethos that cops live by — the police procedural — can itself become suspect and perverted when a bad guy gets to tag along for the action.
For Detective Jensen, a Sherlock Holmes lover, there’s a new game afoot. He must figure out the killer’s true motive: Is Ridgway for real? Or is he concealing something even more macabre? (Spoiler alert: Macabre!) For Jeff Jensen, the book is a chance to revisit something his dad tried to shield him from.
“I wanted to be able to tell his story but also to ask a lot of questions about work he never shared with us,” Jensen said. “When he first read it, he got up and left the room and wept.”
In other words, the Doctor is in.
Check out some excerpts from Jensen’s graphic novel above, then grab a copy here.
Images courtesy Dark Horse Comics