Sheriff David Reichert,
Chasing the Devil
(Time Warner, 2004)

I have listened to many audiobook versions of novels about serial killers. In novels, the action is fast-paced. In novels, you often get to see a crime through the killer's or victim's eyes. Your heart pounds and your adrenalin races as the hero is up against time to stop the next death and bring the perpetrator to justice. The same can be said for all the movies about serial killers. For a short time you experience a thrill ride, but eventually the horror is over.

Entertainment and reality are often very different. For those of you familiar with the "Green River Killer," the lead investigator of that 20-year case, Sheriff David Reichert, has released the book Chasing the Devil. I recently listened to the six-hour audiobook read by Dennis Boutsikaris. Viewing the crimes through the eyes of the investigator isn't as exciting, yet the horror has more staying power than fiction.

The first years of Reichert's investigation were full of frustrations. As initial victims were uncovered and suspects looked in to, he was hampered by both politics and the media. More than once the Green River Task Force was reduced in size after auditing for its ineffectiveness at finding the killer. More than once the media belittled their efforts or infringed on their surveillance of potential evildoers. Even the FBI had a chance to cause the Task Force grief when they jumped on a man innocent of these crimes. Who do you think got egg on their face for that fiasco?

I have to say that I was caught off guard to find out that Reichert had Gary Ridgway in custody back in the early years. Somehow, this unassuming man was able to pass a polygraph test and CSI techniques were not technologically advanced enough to pin DNA evidence against the man. This allowed Ridgway the ability to continue his killing spree for another decade and a half.

A perk of the audiobook that some listeners will like is that there are excerpts from interviews Reichert had with both Ridgway as well as Ted Bundy -- another serial killer from the Seattle area. Both killers sound like normal people. There is nothing chilling in their vocal patterns. Still, it is kind of creepy knowing you are listening to the voice of someone who has no compunction when it comes to ending lives. How do people get to this point? Are they born this way? Is it caused by the way they've grown up? These questions will not be answered by this book.

I will be honest and say that I did not like Chasing the Devil. But it is not because it lacks the adrenalin rush of a movie or novel. I did not like this book because I did not like facing the reality that evil of this magnitude actually exists on this planet. I do not relate to it so I do not want to be confronted with it. That said, I couldn't quit listening. I was captivated by the same, sick feeling I get when I view Holocaust atrocities of World War II. I don't want to see the evil, but I can't turn away. If you enjoy that sick fascination with the evil that often exists in this world, then this book will be right up your alley. Otherwise, stick with fiction. It's easier to get out of your thoughts when you're done with the book.

- Rambles
written by Wil Owen
published 14 May 2005

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