cover image Defending Gary: Unraveling the Mind of the Green River Killer

Defending Gary: Unraveling the Mind of the Green River Killer

Mark Prothero, with Carlton Smith. . Jossey-Bass, $25.95 (558pp) ISBN 978-0-7879-8106-8

After a two-decade investigation, Gary Ridgway, America's "most prolific serial killer," was arrested in November 2001. Prothero became one of his attorneys. A Seattle-area DNA expert who emerges as an affable and humble family man, Prothero argued successfully against the death penalty for Ridgway. Aided by veteran journalist Smith (The Search for the Green River Killer ), Prothero probes the psyche of a monster who appeared to be a devoted husband, son and brother. Did Ridgway's mother corrupt him as a teenager when she washed his genitals after he wet the bed, or did years of inhaling paint fumes on the job impair his judgment? Prothero, who confronted the banality of evil when his miserly client explained that he killed some of his prostitute victims just to get his $20 back, concludes that Ridgway killed between 48 and 71 prostitutes to gain power and control over women and authority figures. The bird's-eye view into the legal wrangling is sometimes obscured by repetitious and unwieldy text, and it's clear that Prothero and Smith aren't in the same league as Norman Mailer, Mikal Gilmore and Ann Rule, who famously humanized Gary Gilmore and Ted Bundy. And unlike in Rule's Green River, Running Red , the victims here are ciphers. (June)