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Friday, 5 January 2018

Book Review: The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule

Ann Rule had signed a contract to write a book on a series of brutal and heinous murders of beautiful young women, not knowing she was going to be writing about the man she had worked alongside at a suicide hotline. A man she had found to be kind and understanding, someone she had began to see as a friend. The Stranger Beside Me is a biographical and autobiographical crime book offering insight into one of America’s most prolific serial killers, Ted Bundy.


“I was one of many, all of us intelligent, compassionate people who had no real comprehension of what possessed him, what drove him obsessively.”

Straight up, one of the most enjoyable books I read this year. I’m not saying it should have won awards or anything, it ain’t groundbreaking, but as someone who is obsessed with true crime I found it hard to put down. Ted Bundy has to be one of the most fascinating serial killers in history. To be so charming and attractive, presenting this false façade, when underneath the thoughts and fantasies he has… the absolutely brutal and heinous crimes and murders he committed, it’s INSANE. Mix in the fact that he managed to escape from prison/officials, not once… but TWICE. This is also the guy who represented himself in court! And let’s not forget the hundreds of women all over the country, termed “Ted’s groupies” who professed their love for him, and thought he just needed someone to be kind to him *rolls eyes so far back into head I go blind*. Honestly, the more I read about Ted Bundy, the more fascinating he becomes.

Just as fascinating is his complicated relationship with Ann Rule. Before I read this book, I thought they just kinda knew each other, I did not realise they were actually friends. Rule admits herself that she never quite believed that someone like her friend Ted could be capable of such horrific acts, and it’s not until his capture and trials in Florida that Rule fully accepts that he is a serial killer. Yet she continues to write to him in prison and send money for cigarettes or stamps etc. I believe Rule has gotten some flack for how she perhaps handled her friendship with Bundy, but the conflict she underwent is very apparent in this book. She says a few times that she finds it almost impossible to merge the two Teds: the Ted who was her friend during a particularly tough time in her life and the Ted who brutally murdered a ridiculous number of women.

Rule also attempts to find reasoning behind Ted’s incomprehensible acts – pretty much placing blame on his first love. Stephanie humiliated him so Ted took that rage and revenge out on women who resembled her – every time he murdered them, he was murdering Stephanie. I think Bundy’s psychopathy is more complicated than us, and Rule actually acknowledges this in one of her number of revisions – there’s about 4 revisions added on, I think, with updated information.

I really could talk about this book until my fingers become little stubs with my incessant typing, so I’ll wrap up… Although this book does cover the crimes that Bundy committed, it’s more about who Bundy really was and his complicated friendship with Rule. I’ve seen a number of reviews unhappy with this aspect of the book, but I really enjoyed it. Not the best book I’ve read this year, but definitely one of the most enjoyable. I’m still thinking about it days after finishing.

Johann
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1 comment :

  1. I've heard great things about this and I have a copy of it. I'm super excited to get to it and I'm happy to hear some positive thoughts about it. It makes me incredibly excited to pick it up!

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