Utterly unique in its astonishing intimacy, as jarringly frightening as when it first appeared, Ann Rule's The Stranger Beside Me defies our expectation that we would surely know if a monster lived among us, worked alongside of us, appeared as one of us. With a slow chill that intensifies with each heart-pounding page, Rule describes her dawning awareness that Ted Bundy, her sensitive coworker on a crisis hotline, was one of the most prolific serial killers in America. He would confess to killing at least thirty-six young women from coast to coast, and was eventually executed for three of those cases. Drawing from their correspondence that endured until shortly before Bundy's death, and striking a seamless balance between her deeply personal perspective and her role as a crime reporter on the hunt for a savage serial killer -- the brilliant and charismatic Bundy, the man she thought she knew -- Rule changed the course of true-crime literature with this unforgettable chronicle.
Ann Rule was a popular American true crime writer. Raised in a law enforcement and criminal justice system environment, she grew up wanting to work in law enforcement herself. She was a former Seattle Policewoman and was well educated in psychology and criminology.
She came to prominence with her first book, The Stranger Beside Me, about the Ted Bundy murders. At the time she started researching the book, the murders were still unsolved. In the course of time, it became clear that the killer was Bundy, her friend and her colleague as a trained volunteer on the suicide hotline at the Seattle, Washington Crisis Clinic, giving her a unique distinction among true crime writers.
Rule won two Anthony Awards from Bouchercon, the mystery fans' organization. She was nominated three times for the Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America. She is highly regarded for creating the true crime genre as it exists today.
“And, like all the others, I have been manipulated to suit Ted’s needs. I don’t feel particularly embarrassed or resentful about that. I was one of many, all of us intelligent, compassionate people who had no real comprehension of what possessed him, what drove him obsessively.”
Would you trust this man?
Comparisons could be made between Lois Lane and the writer Ann Rule. She was caught in the middle of a bizarre set of circumstances that was quickly becoming a nightmare. Someone she considered a friend was being accused of things that she simply could not comprehend. Even with her years of work in law enforcement, she still had trouble believing what was being said about Ted Bundy. I was a bit surprised to read that she was not embarrassed that she had been so fooled. If Dr. Spock is right, maybe something on a more subconscious level was keeping her from accepting the truth.
“Dr. Benjamin Spock, who worked in a veterans’ hospital dealing with emotional illnesses during World War II, commented at the time that there was a pronounced cross-sex problem in dealing with psychopathic personalities. The male psychopaths had no difficulty in bewitching female staff members, while the male staff picked up on them rapidly. The female psychopaths could fool the male staff but not the women.”
Rule worked with Ted Bundy at the crisis center in Seattle, answering the calls of those in desperate need of help. Knowing what we know now about Bundy, I wonder if he didn’t work there just to feed on the pain of others. He made an impression on Rule, just like he did on most of the people he came into contact with. He was personable, charismatic, extremely good looking, and intelligent. In her mind, he was a substitute for her younger brother who had passed away. It was the beginning of a long friendship that never wavered, even as more and more evidence was turning slivers of doubts into shocking realities.
Wherever Ted Bundy lived, pretty, young women were dying.
”A sexual psychopath, according to Dr. Jarvis, is not legally insane, and does know the difference between right and wrong. But he is driven to attack women. There is usually no deficiency in intelligence, no brain damage, or frank psychosis.”
Whatever we may have in our mind of what a sexual deviant is, Ted Bundy did not fit that profile. He didn’t have a scar bisecting his face or a hunched back or a withered arm or bristling insanity twisting his features. To most women, if King Arthur were to take off his helmet, they would want him to look like Ted Bundy. He was well spoken and appeared about as harmless as a man 6 ft tall and 160 pounds can look. He was above suspicion.
Bundy looked more like a lawyer than his lawyers did.
Bundy was in fact one of the most dangerous humans to ever walk the planet. He was born lacking one key ingredient, a conscience. Interesting enough, he played on the conscience of his intended victims. He tricked them with a fake broken arm in a sling, a leg cast, and other things that would lower their defenses even further. He had a knack for finding those women most vulnerable, the weakest, and separating them from the pack.
He was a merciless predator.
There is speculation that he killed over 38 women, but there are others that believe that the number could be well over a 100. All of his victims were beautiful, talented women who just happened to part their long hair in the middle.
We always want to understand the criminally insane as if that will give us the keys to protecting ourselves from them. Unfortunately, psychopaths like Bundy blend with us as if they belong with us, but the truth is there is no rehabilitation for someone like Bundy. He is controlled by his darkest desires, his midnight obsessions.
I’ve always found Bundy to be one of the more unfathomable of the pantheon of serial killers. It was as if he found his victim’s beauty an affront against his own existence. He was so cold, calculating, and brutal. He was a rising star in the Republican party in Washington state. He even had a gig driving the governor of Washington around for awhile. He was a man with all the tools to become governor himself.
I have to give Rule props, though. She admitted to her own naivety. Her disbelief in the face of insurmountable evidence was in some ways frustrating to me. Even with her professional law enforcement experience, she struggled to bring herself to believe that the man she had thought so much of was also a homicidal maniac. There is something very human in her reaction. She was a loyal friend. She believed in the man that Bundy was supposed to be.
He wanted to tell her. ”’There are things I want to tell you...but I can’t,’ was there something I could have said that would have allowed him to talk to me then?”
Bundy left a string of bodies in Seattle, Salt Lake City, Aspen, and Tallahassee. He escaped from prison twice which led to more tragedies. His compelling need to kill was too strong to be put on hold even when the very best thing he could do was give himself a new name and blend back into the population again.
Ted Bundy, always the showman, waves to the press.
Ann Rule probably had one of the more unique views of a killer I’ve ever encountered. Her account is honest and thorough. You will know Ted Bundy at the end of this book. You still won’t understand him. The fears you have of evil will never be manifested on the faces of the perpetrators. They are hidden beneath the skin. It is something dark inside them that writhes in the place where the soul is supposed to reside.
Like half the planet, my wife and I watched the Ted Bundy series on Netflix. For some reason, I decided I wanted more so I picked this up. Even though I scared the shit out of myself as a kid watching 20/20, Unsolved Mystery, and Dateline, true crime books aren't normally my thing. This one was an easy, compelling read.
I find it fascinating that Ann Rule knew Ted Bundy and was writing a book about the Washington killings at the same time. Anyway, this book serves up a lot more information than the Netflix documentary series. It works a lot of gruesome details into the mix as well as eyewitness statements and elaborates on a lot of the points the documentary glosses over. It also mentions things that the documentary completely ignored, like some attacks Bundy perpetrated before the killing spree ever started, or the Idaho murders he confessed to.
The documentary is slanted a bit to make Ted Bundy look highly intelligent. In the book, it's pretty apparent that while he was smart, luck and the negligence of people around him were big factors to his getting away with things for so long. You know, maybe keep your eye on the accused murderer who has already escaped once? Or keep an eye on the hacksaws in your jail?
Ann Rule's perceptions of Ted Bundy effectively highlight his chameleon like abilities to snowball people and blend in anywhere. The details of the murders show what a cold blooded bastard he was. He's not a folk hero or a heart throb, people! Ted Bundy's trial is a damn circus. Yeah, we all know the mother fucker was guilty but it was a damn circus. It was like letting Charlie defend himself on an episode of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia.
While I won't say I actually enjoyed it, The Stranger Beside Me was a gripping true crime book. Four out of five stars.
This was an interesting read, and for the most part it was written adequately. Due to the geography of the murders (I am from Aspen), I had a particular interest in some of the events. My problem with the book is the self-important place which the author places herself when her own words make me feel as though she was nothing more than a "Ted groupie" who sent him money in jail and gave him information. At times, she claims Ted calls her only to talk, and then it is clearly evident by what their conversation is about that Ted had other motives than friendly discussion. She worked next to him one night a week for a year, attended two work-related Christmas parties with him and then had one lunch face to face with him and she claims, "I may know Ted as well as anyone has ever known him." I find that hard to believe. Ann Rule also states, "Ted's psyche so dominated Meg's (Ted's ex) that I am amazed that she was ever able to break free," but, in my mind, I don't understand how Rule was never able to break free.
“I was one of many, all of us intelligent, compassionate people who had no real comprehension of what possessed him, what drove him obsessively.”
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.
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. It’s also hands down my fave true crime book. I’m still thinking about it days after finishing.
For all that Ann Rule invokes her friendship with Bundy -both before and after Bundy's arrest - the truth is this book could have been written solely off of newspaper research and trial records. There's no real emotional-depth or analysis. And Rule's interjections of what was happening with her personal life are annoying; they don't connect to any of the other events she's writing about, and since her entire description of her feelings towards and interactions with bundy are about as dry as when she's describing third parties, there's no need to know about who she is. I do wonder if Rule has ever written a more straightforward memoir about how she felt, and how she feels, about her dealings with Ted. She was both his friend and someone who could profit a great deal from his friendship, and it leads to some morally ambiguous territory. A book that explored that as a kind confessional/memoir like Bob Woodward's The Secret Man, only darker, could have been really interesting. Instead, Rule just writes passages to the effect that "I couldn't abandon Ted, no matter what he'd done," while eliding the stake she had in maintaining that relationship. If she was going to make herself central to the story, she needed to explore that territory beyond two-dimensional plattitudes.
Wow. This was an exhausting read. Between the epilogue, the afterword 1986, the last chapter 1989, the update: twenty years later 2000, and a postscript penned by Rule's daughter, I thought I might never finish this.
That said, it is considered by many to be the definitive work not only on Bundy the serial killer, but also on Bundy the charismatic, attractive, and promising law student.
And really. What are the chances? You're a struggling single mom of four, eking out a living writing true crime articles for detective magazines and suddenly not only have you received a contract to write a book detailing a string of grizzly murders, but once the murderer is caught you find out he is a friend and previous coworker.
Seriously. You can't make this stuff up.
At times, I found Rule's narrative to be repetitive and overly introspective, but I guess given the circumstances, it was hard to avoid. And what the hell. She deserves to get it off her chest. Plus, eventually, she makes some valid observations, particularly with respect to Bundy's final interview in which he tries to "blame" his actions on violent pornography and detective magazines (ie true crime stories). I had actually watched the interview earlier on in the reading process and admit that he almost had me biting--hook, line, and sinker. However, after reading Rule's analysis, I think she was spot on. Which, I think is the point. A sociopath, Bundy was a master manipulator, incapable of empathy and lacking a conscience. He certainly wasn't able to fully appreciate his culpability. Pointing the finger at society seems consistent with his character.
I personally found some of the add-ons to be of little value, with the exception of the afterword and the last chapter, which both document the remainder of Bundy's ordeal.
All in all, a fascinating story told with competence, at least for the most part. If you happen to pick up a later printing like I did, consider skipping the epilogue, the update 2000 and the postscript.
As an aside, though unintentional or not on the part of Rule, I think there is an interesting discussion of the death penalty. It took millions of dollars to put Bundy to death, far more than it would have cost to keep him alive. Furthermore, seeing that he represents a "diseased" brain, I wonder if "we" (society) missed an opportunity to better understand exactly what contributes to the making of a Bundy.
I also wonder if as a society we need to redefine what constitutes sanity and insanity and the legal implications. I'm not sure men like Bundy have the power to stop themselves, just like I don't think most of us with normal functioning brains can understand how a Bundy couldn't stop himself. Anyone who does what he did has to be playing by a different set of rules, and it seems to me they are suffering from something that may be no more their fault than a man who is stricken with cancer. What does that mean legally? I'm not sure. But while putting men like Bundy to death "feels" right on some visceral level, it doesn't even begin to address the underlying problem.
Of course, on the other hand, this is a man who escaped twice, murdering and/or brutally attacking a half-dozen victims before being recaptured. Had he the opportunity, he would have killed again.
If you don't read any other book by Ann Rule, this is the one to read. This was my first time reading about Ted Bundy. In fact, this was my first true-crime book I read. Ann Rule is the reason I became an armchair detective. It is that well researched. It is rare a true crime author actually worked with a serial killer. She knew him personally before he was outed for the killer he was. That kind of insight is priceless. She even didn't see the monster lurking within. Her personal relationships with the detectives on the case was invaluable. Ann gives us a real inside look on the case. A must-read for true-crime fans.
Ted Bundy was convicted of horrific crimes against young women and girls. I think it takes a special strength to tell his story as objectively as possible, but I cannot imagine the resolve and commitment required to write this book about a companion.
Brilliantly balanced, the author somehow separates the young man that worked in the crisis center and went on to become her friend, with the wanted "Ted". As if I needed another reason to admire Ann Rule.
I've read at least 10 of Ann Rule's true crime books over the years, but until now I hadn't read what is arguably her most famous one. She was already a published writer of true crime articles, but her book about serial killer Ted Bundy is really what put her on the map. What makes this book fascinating is Ann actually knew Ted before he became known to the rest of the world. The book is full of facts about Ted and his crimes, trials, and finally execution, but also Ann goes into details of her feelings about him and how difficult it was to come to the realization he was a killer.
Ann was a volunteer at a suicide crisis line in the early 70s and that's where she met co-worker, Ted Bundy. After they both stopped working there they lost touch for awhile, until he started contacting her after the police started suspecting him of horrific crimes.
I haven't read any other books about Ted Bundy but my guess is this is probably one of the more thorough books written about him for a few reasons. One, Ann was just a good true crime writer. And two, she had a personal connection to him which just took the book to this bizarre but fascinating level. I can't even imagine what it would feel like to find out someone you interacted with is a serial killer.
While this is a book I would recommend reading if you are looking for more info on Ted Bundy, it is not my favorite of Ann Rule's books. I just prefer her books where there is more of a focus on the victims while this one was on the killer. One of her strengths as a writer is providing a voice for the victims and unfortunately most of that was missing in this book. However, I understand why given there were just so many victims that it would be difficult to go into much detail about each person.
This book was first published in 1980 but my newer edition included numerous updates as recent as the year 2000.
Wow!!!! Ann Rule takes us on a thrilling journey of the life and death of serial killer Ted Bundy. Being friends with a serial killer isn't the easiest thing in the world. But Ann didn't find that out until much later... Oh, Ted Bundy... what can I possibly say about this American icon that hasn't already been said in this book? I had several problems with this book but it had absolutely nothing to do with the author. Problems such as the diagnosis that they gave Ted Bundy which I felt was completely bogus and only used so that he could not use the insanity plea in his trials. I feel very conflicted however about the relationship between Ann and Ted. She doesn't explain until "The Last Chapter" that she held hopes for him to still help the world in the way that she first knew him to help people. She explains how she doesn't understand and cannot comprehend how someone can hurt an innocent victim and not feel remorse for it. Perhaps this is why she continued to send him money even in prison and why she continued to correspond with him even after his conviction. She wanted to use him to do good in the only way that she knew how. Whereas in the beginning I believe she was simply in denial that someone she called her friend could possibly be such a monster. As for Ted Bundy himself oh, I feel that he ultimately got what he wanted. Control. He was able to convince everyone that he was "the baddest son of a bitch around" and that he was the most monstrous of serial killers. By manipulating the public the way that he did he was able to victimize people that he hadn't even touched yet. When we as a populist think of Ted Bundy we think of fear. That is his legacy. and in my opinion the legacy that he wanted for himself. But anyways enough about my thoughts on the book. Let's talk about the nitty-gritty. The book was masterfully written as with most of Ann Rule's works. Her profession has allowed her to write these true crime novels in such a way that the layman can understand and follow but she still uses the police and detective crime jargon. She makes it easy for her readers to follow along and even makes her books exciting by turning the facts and evidence into a storyline. She is without doubt America's number one true crime novelist. I enjoyed this book immensely. although I already knew a lot about Ted Bundy there is still so much in this book that I did not know and was eager to learn. My self-studies in the field of psychology made this book more than fascinating for me. I don't think we realized when Ted was convicted how rare a jewel he actually was. And when I say that here's what I mean: it is so positively rare that we get a serial killer the likes of Ted Bundy. It is even rarer to get a serial killer the likes of Ted Bundy caught alive and held in captivity where we could possibly study him and learn from him. I truly wish we would have kept him alive and not giving him the death penalty. I understand that this statement may piss a few people off but it is my personal opinion. I could honestly go on and on about this book but I will refrain from doing so. LOL 😜 Please read this book if you have not already. I think this is one of those books that everyone should read no matter who you are, no matter where you come from. Ted Bundy is a study in not only American history but human history itself. Because you never know when you might meet a Ted Bundy yourself.
An uneven read. Sometimes griping and fascinating, other times tedious and dragging. Even tho Ann Rule's relationship with Ted Bundy and her unique perspective on the whole case made the book interesting, I almost wished I read something written by a different person. Someone with better writing skills. I'd still recommend "The Stranger Beside Me" to anyone who wants a very detailed account of Bundy's life, but be prepared... This is a long and tiresome book.
از بین همه ی قاتل های سریالی که مدت هاست پرونده هاشون رو می خونم، بدون شک "تد باندی" موجود کاملاً متفاوتیه. درسته که باندی به متهم به کشتن و تجاوز به حداقل سی زن بود (آمار اصلی به احتمال زیاد خیلی بیشتر هست) ولی کسانی بودند که خیلی بیشتر از باندی کشتند و خیلی فجیع تر اما باندی یک موجود نادر بود. یک هیولا-انسان. مردی که می تونست حقوق و روانشناسی بخونه و یک دانشجوی نمونه باشه، سال ها عاشق زنی باشه، برای صاحبخانه ی پیرش مثل یک پسر باشه و بچه ای در حال غرق شدن رو نجات بده و در همان حال دخترهای جوان رو بدزده، بهشون تجاوز کنه و با ضربه های شدید به سرشون بکشتشون و این تازه بهترین سناریوی کار های سیاهش باشه
چنین موجودی واقعا وحشتناکه. کسی که هیچوقت نه کاملاً انسانه و نه کاملاً هیولا. شاید اشتباه می کنم ولی با خوندن زندگیش حس می کنم که همیشه بین این دو دست و پا زده. خیلی از قاتل های سریالی ماسک انسان های نرمال رو دارند ولی باندی انگار هردو چهره رو "واقعا " داره این مرد جذاب و به ش��ت کاریزماتیک که با کت و شلوار در دادگاه میشینه و از خودش دفاع می کنه و هوش بالایی که صرف این سیاهی درونش میشه. صرف پاک کردن رد جنایت هاش و دوبار (!) فرار از زندان
ان رول نویسنده کتاب دوست قدیمیه باندیه که در طی سال های دستگیری باندی باهاش ارتباط داره و در کتاب سعی می کنه چیزی بیشتر از یک قاتل سریالی از تد نشون بده. انسان تر از چیزی که مردمی که با وحشتش زندگی کردند و خانواده هایی که با غم دخترانشون زندگی کردند از باندی دیدند. اگر علاقه به جزییات دارین این کتاب می تونه عالی باشه. روایت تک تک قرب��نی ها و دادگاه ها کتاب رو تبدیل به یک مرجع می کنه. البته احساسات شخصی نویسنده نسبت به باندی رو نباید دست کم گرفت
پ.ن ۱: دائما یاد دکستر می افتادم! دکستر کاملاً از روی باندی الگو زده شده البته جز افرادی که برای کشتن انتخاب می کرده پ.ن ۲: نمی دونم چرا زودتر این ژانر رو نمی خوندم! عالیه واقعا
OK, a couple things before we begin: 1) Thanks for the Kindle loan, 1.0! 2) This is my 1000th review on Goodreads. Crazy! 3) I've been sick for a week with a sinus infection and not sleeping very well + sick brain, so... you know. Keep that in mind as you read my ramblings below.
I finished this book with the deadline of loan expiration looming over me. I didn't think it would take me 2 full damn weeks to read a less than 600 page book, but apparently that's what happens when you have to stop every 3 sentences to make a note or a highlight or bookmark, and you get sick for one of the weeks. Good times.
I don't know why I was so determined to finish this book before Kindle snatches it away from me and I lose access to my notes and highlights. I'm notorious for making a million notes, and then never looking at them again. I'm weird. I seem to just like to vent frustration to my kindle in note form. I shall make a point to use them for this review, just to make it worth the time I put in writing them!
And I had a lot of it to vent with this book. A lot. Now, part of this is likely due to the fact that I grew up knowing Ted Bundy's name and reputation. I lived in Jacksonville, Florida in 1986-1989 when he was in prison in Florida, until he was finally executed. (Well I continued living there after that too, as I was a child and my residence in the state had nothing at all to do with Ted Bundy but rather my dad being stationed there.) So, anyway, I knew of him, and I can't separate myself from that knowledge. BUT - I also have the ability to read with an open mind and listen to someone else's perspective, which is what I had fully intended to do here.
I like to consider myself an empathetic person. I generally like to give people the benefit of the doubt, and trust in people, at least until I'm given reason not to. You'd think that I'd be down with Ann Rule and her position because of this. You'd think that she and I were on the same wavelength. But no. She and I parted ways pretty damn quickly on the "I'm gonna continue to support my friend, Ted Bundy" path.
I could understand her ambivalence at first. I could understand her thinking that maybe, just maybe, he was innocent and circumstances just worked out poorly for him and he turned into the lead suspect in some women's disappearances by pure bad luck and circumstance, soon to be cleared and move on with one's life. I could understand her belief in him, that he had had nothing to do with it. A "railroad job" so that the police can save face (even though she was previously a cop herself, and her family was in law enforcement, so she should know better, but it's not unheard of, so.... OK, sure.) Benefit of the doubt.
But then, oddly, everywhere he goes, women are attacked, kidnapped, go missing, or wind up dead. Washington, Oregon, Utah, Colorado, and Florida. Throughout alllll of these states, Ann still can't quite believe that he's capable, that he's not being "railroaded". Because it's totally likely that so many separate states and law enforcement jurisdictions would pick him, alone, out of the thousands of other men available - an educated, attractive, white man - and just pin whatever they wanted on him, you know, just because. 44 year old Ann can't quite wrap her head around the fact that this man, who, at the time of his Utah arrest for kidnapping and assault, she'd known for a whopping 4 years, could have done the things that he was accused of. He's her friend. Through it all, she writes to him, plays his confidante, sends him money, protects his privacy, and his feelings.
It takes until he FINALLY goes to trial in Florida, after all the evidence (circumstantial, eye witness, and solid scientific evidence outlined by experts) that was actually allowed was laid out, and the guilty verdict is read for Ann Rule to believe that her "friend" is not the man she thought he was.
And even AFTER his conviction(s), she still wrote to him, sent him money, was concerned for him. I just could not understand her loyalty to him. I get the groupies, those girls that Ann herself couldn't understand at the end, who despite KNOWING that he was a killer, still wanted to be near/with him. I don't really understand it, but I get it. If that makes sense. But with ANN, this woman who grew up in law enforcement, had previously been a police officer herself, was investigating and writing about the murders and disappearances that Ted was committing, and most importantly, had daughters she couldn't see how like those girls she was... just in a different way. And why? Because he "validated" her worth as a woman, "listening, reassuring, giving credibility to what [Ann] was trying to become"? She writes: "Such a friend is not easy to turn one's back on."
To which I say: Bitch, please. I have dropped FAMILY MEMBERS I literally grew up with out of my life for far, far less than multiple state murder and missing persons investigations centered around them.
Throughout the book, the majority of my notes were rage-responses to Ann's saintlike concern for Ted's well-being, his happiness, his comfort, Ted's lack of freedom (when he was in jail, and then prison), Ted's desire to live (after his multiple death sentences were passed) and how hard being "away from the sea" was for him.
Problem solved. But seriously - throughout all of this, her writing of their friendship and their relationship, and her feelings of conflict about her friend vs this accused-and-later-convicted monster, I just kept thinking that she was giving more value to HIS life and freedom than to those of his victims. And, coincidentally, had he NOT killed them, then everyone would be free and happy... and alive.
In one of the obituary articles written after her 2015 death, this stood out to me: "Rule said she was fascinated by killers' lives, going back to their childhood to find clues about why they did what they did. But her books focused on victims, and she became an advocate for victims' rights."
Which is a little different than my take on this book, to be honest. I haven't read her others, so maybe it's true of them, but despite mentioning them and giving as much information about them as possible, I didn't feel the victims were the focus in this book.
Now, to be fair, by the end, in one of the 73 afterwords and follow-up updates, Ann realizes that he lied, used, and manipulated her the same way that he had lied, used, and manipulated everyone, and recognizes him for what he was, a sociopathic, unrepentant killer. But I think it took her far too damn long to get there, and that was super frustrating to me.
All that being said, this was not a bad book. I didn't always agree (or understand) Ann's perspective, but I can't fault her research or fairness of reporting, despite the clear conflict it surely presented to her. She obviously had a high moral ground, and tried to remain as impartial as possible (except when talking about her feelings and friendship with Ted). I thought that it was readable and engaging, and despite some typos and punctuation errors (likely kindle formatting glitches), it was well written.
I would be curious to read one of her non-Ted Bundy books to see what they are like. I don't think she was a bad writer, and I really liked the idea of someone who personally knew the killer writing about them, so that we can see their "human" face, but I found it to be a bit unbelievable for her to stand by him like she did, for as long as she did, based on such a short and limited previous acquaintance.
So. This ended up being more of a review of Ann Rule writing about Ann Rule than about Ted Bundy... but Ted was a monster and nothing more needs to be said about him.
“Any of us who have raised children know, as John F. Kennedy once said, that “to have children is to give hostages to fate.” ― Ann Rule, The Stranger Beside Me
I start this review rather unsure of just how to do a review. My reading experience here was far from normal.
So this book is about Ted Bundy. I'm sure most or all of you know who he was. Bundy was one of the world's most heinous serial killers. He was a nightmare come to life.
But this is not solely his story. The author is Ann Rule. I've read many of her books but never really felt the need to read this one although I knew of it. But for some reason it did not call to me.
Someone I know and think highly of recommended it which is how I found my way to Ann's story --- decades after it was first written. I trust this person's book taste and the book sounded frankly chilling and fascinating from a psychological standpoint.
And it was. It was also very long. This was the first book in I am not sure how long that took me DAYS AND DAYS to finish. Usually, I can read a book in a day. Not here. I doubt you will be able to either.
It is one of those books that you experience rather than read. I can say I was mesmerized.
This does not mean it was perfect -- far from it. I will speak of what I did not like in this review. But there isn't any way I could have given it less than a five. It is the best book I've read this year, by far.
Ann Rule -- the famous crime writer who knows human nature better than almost everyone and anyone I've seen, was taken in by Ted. You see, she knew him. They were friends. They met when both were volunteers at a suicide hotline. Believe it or not. She looked on him as a younger brother. They developed a bond. They became good friends and confidantes.
So much so that when Bundy became a suspect many years later in horrific murders -- more than one, more than two -- Ann went into denial. She couldn't believe it.
This book is the tale of their meeting, their friendship, the crimes that begin to envelop and take over Washington state -- and then Utah and other states -- it is a story of violence, of loss, of despair and of Rule's growing awareness which then turns to alarm, then denial then horror.
It is not a typical true crime book yet I cannot imagine any fan of true crime not wanting to read this.
The telling of the murders -- how they happen, the burgening terror, the dread -- was gripping. You feel you are there. She paints portaits of the tragic victims --a few survived. Most did not.
And she tells of Bundy -- who frankly I did not know much about until after reading this.
One can see how much she cared about him. Rule had lost a sibling to suicide before she ever met Bundy. She possibly could have had some transference. She doted on Ted, unwilling or unable to believe he was a killer -- for years.
Some people did not like that. Many critics found her denial obtuse and almost naive. It was. But it was also understandable.
When one reads this, to really get a handle on why Rule stuck by him, why she sent him money in prison, why she believed in him -- one has to think of their own relationships.
Think perhaps of a time you trusted the wrong person. Also think of your friends and family. And think if one of them -- maybe one you cared for the most -- was also accused of heinous crimes. Would YOU believe it?
Coming from it that way I can understand Ann's denial. She makes no attempt to sugercoat it and she is hard on herself.
I do admit to wondering if the fact that she was trying to make it as a true-crime writer at that time had anything to do with her continued friendship with Bundy. I suspect it might have but I've no proof. Never though did I doubt she cared about Ted -- or her memory of what she once thought he was.
Ted himself struck me as odd. If there was one thing I wish Rule had done differently it would be to show the reader more of his personality. I really had little interest in his letters, many of which were featured here. I wanted her to go deeper into every-day interactions with people. How was he able to exist so long incognito with nobody suspecting?
I did not feel I ever knew the Bundy she presented. I really wanted to know more about his every day life with his partners, his family, his friends.
It was also a bit to long. I began losing interest around 70-75%. the court stuff bored me. I've read to much of it in other books.
It is a scary book. No -- it is a TERRIFYING book. Not for the faint of heart. NOT.
You will come to care for the victims and it is horrific what happens to them.
Rule can write eeriness. I wish she were still around. I have been a fan for longer than I can remember.
Her denial was deep and as honest as I am trying to be here --I DID judge her after awhile. I did judge the letter writing, the money she sent him, the long conversations. given some of my bizarre decisions in life, I've no right. (Although I never met up with a serial killer.) But it was hard to believe a woman so tough, such a survivor could be in denial as long as she was. Still, I understand it, in a way.
There is no question but that Rule was lonely when she met Ted. There is no question that they confided much. And there is no question that all of this has haunted her.
In short -- a brilliant, spell-binding non-fiction novel that brought forth my love of reading, reminding me why I do love it so much. I hope Rule --wherever she is now -- is at peace. She remains the best true-crime writer in the world, as far as I'm concerned.
Wow! So much better than I expected! So happy we chose this as our first book for Peter’s Book Club this year as a year of true crime! My full review will be up on my booktube channel at http://YouTube.com/peterlikesbooks
Mention the name Ted Bundy, google his name, and you will find a plethora of information on this man, one of the most famous of serial killers ever to roam this earth. He was a man who was ever so handsome, a man who could twist and and manipulate, a man who killed wantonly without a thought or a regret as to what his crime was doing not only to his victims but also to the families who were left behind.
“Yet, in reality, Ted loved things more than he loved people. He could find life in an abandoned bicycle or an old car, and feel a kind of compassion for these inanimate objects, more compassion than he could ever feel for another human being.”
In the book, The Stranger Beside Me, the author Ann Rule, gives the reader an extremely through and detailed account of her interaction with Ted Bundy. Ann had been on assignment pulling together stories about a killer trying to follow his trail across the many states where death had followed, when the unbelievable happened.
Unbeknownst to Ann, the killer was someone she knew, someone she liked, someone who meant something to her. Ann had become friends with Ted Bundy while they had worked together at a suicide prevention center. She was drawn to him, there was something so charismatic about Ted that she never lost contact with him and as the clues seemed to point more and more in Ted's direction for the bludgeoning, rape and sodomy of so many women, she came to the realization that her friend, a friend she so treasured, could possibly be a serial killer. She finds it hard to believe and as she becomes more involved with the proceedings, she has times of thinking that Ted could not possibly be the man who committed these heinous crimes. Literally, Ann had fallen under the Bundy spell.
As Ted is brought to justice, recaptured after making two successful jail escapes, Ann still grapples with his guilt. One had to wonder if she was just so sure of her assessment of her friend or was there something else that lurked below the surface for Ann? Even as all points to Ted's guilt, there is that urge to fight for him, so that he might escape the fate that was decided for him after his trial.
This story was chilling, as one sees so many fall like dominoes to Ted's charm. He was so able to weave a spell around so many even to the point of marrying a woman while in jail and producing a daughter. It is a story of horror, a story of fear, a story of a weird and dangerous friendship that at least to this reader seemed unnatural.
I listened to the audio version of this book, a long eighteen hour trip into depravity. We can always make excuses for abhorrent behavior and yet there are thirty women, (although Ted said once to add a zero onto the end of that number) who are no longer alive today who were lost at the hands of an evil monster. I often wanted to hear of empathy for the victims and their families and yet, of course this was Ted's story and the story of what I consider a very bizarre and abhorrent friendship.
Recommended to those who find the subject of sociopaths interesting as they lay bare all the ways in which some can be malevolent and evil, and yet engender the love and care of quite a few people.
Redundant, boring, and a massive drag. There is just so much wrong with this book that if I list all of it, my review might get to about half the length of the book.
Ann Rule cannot write. There are far too many repetitions, poorly phrased sentences, typos, and missing words in the book. I can understand that the 'writer' might have created many chapters from her notes, but that is no excuse for poor editing. The length of the book is too much for my liking. (Did Ann Rule get paid by the number of words she wrote?)
Much of the information from the book was available online as well, so it is hardly 'shocking' or an 'inside' story. (I'm not saying that Bundy's actions are not shocking, but rather Ms. Rule's descriptions of them are inane.) Moreover, she plays around with the chronology too much. Also the added chapters are ridiculous. Could she not have rewritten the book instead of adding a 'Final Chapter', an 'Afterword' and then an 'Update'?
Caught in a quagmire of cliches and hackneyed phrases, Ann Rule doesn't even try to get out to 'normal' writing.
Ted Bundy was a terrifying man, and I think he might just be the most evil character I've ever come across (in the real world as well as the fictional one). Also, the first one-third of the book is promising enough. What I found the toughest to reconcile to was the fact that Bundy actually might have saved lives at the crisis helpline. When I read about Ted, it is easy to imagine that a tough childhood, a screwed up fatherhood/motherhood situation, and the situation with Stephanie would've left him damaged for life.
But, his humane side (or what he displayed of it during his volunteer work) was what horrified me.
Ann Rule did a good job of that, but she started losing me when she tried to paint herself as someone who almost might have been a victim or someone of interest to Bundy. No offence, lady but Ted Bundy targeted only young, pretty girls right?
Also, what I had a hard time understanding was Ann Rule's affection for Bundy despite the latter's almost obvious guilt. In my opinion, she had numerous chances to pull back but she didn;t. (Maybe, I'm being unfair here and I feel this way only because Rule's book has been written in hindsight.)
However, she does seem to display far too much sympathy to Ted and far too little to the victims, even if one were to assume that she believed him to be innocent.
The description of each trial proceeding became too tedious and it would've been worthwhile for Ann Rule to take a cue from a better writer of courtroom dramas. Also, I don't think she needed to devote multiple pages to the letters that she wrote to Ted or the ones that he wrote to her. She could have simply written the gist of the letters in the book, and added snapshots of the letters to the appendix.
If you really want to read more about the man who might have killed many more victims than he confessed to, you might be better off reading up news articles and magazines instead.
Overall, the story of Ted Bundy - 3.5 stars and quality of writing - 0.5 stars. Therefore, I can't bring myself to give this book more than a single star.
P.S. Also, considering Ms. Rule sent many $10 checks to Ted Bundy, could she please send me one as well to refund me the cost of this utterly pointless book?
Ann Rule has written a truly interesting book here; the updates as both the case progressed and her viewpoint adjusted are absolutely invaluable.
For me, true crime is a window into how the human brain goes wrong. I'm endlessly fascinated by what the brain is capable of, both at the good and bad ends of the spectrum. Unfortunately, too often true crime is either neglectful of the victims, treating killers or otherwise awful people as the star of the show. That, or it's all lurid details of truly horrifying acts. But this book really focuses more on those around "Ted" - the lawmen who chased and convicted him, the friends and family so sure they knew him, the doctors and media who seemed to exist with him in a cycle of co-exploitation; and, of course, his victims, both known, likely, and the very fortunate few who survived their brush with evil.
The book itself was written in 1980, when things were (by her own admission) still very raw for Ann Rule. The updates are so valuable because we're given a glimpse into that process that comes when the truth can no longer be ignored and acceptance has to win the day. There's glimpses of that peeking through in the original manuscript, though, and it's interesting that although she's still unable to reconcile the person she knew with the monster she knows him to be, Ann Rule writes with absolute sympathy for those Ted Bundy affected.
This was a long read, but a good one, and very, very interesting. Some things really are classics for a reason.
This month I’ve been binge listening to the podcast My Favorite Murder. I’m obsessed. There were a couple of episodes where Karen (one of the hosts) mentioned that she was reading The Stranger Beside Me. I was intrigued. When I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. Ann Rule was a prolific true crime writer, and this is the work that really put her on the map. Back in the ‘70s, in some weird twist of fate, the serial killer she was writing about turned out to be her friend, Ted. The Stranger Beside Me is a well written and researched insider’s take on Ted Bundy, his murders, and his trial. Not only do we get Bundy’s narrative, but we see the way it impacted Rule’s life. It took her a while to come to terms with Bundy’s guilt, and, when she did, she mourned the man she knew. If you’re interested in true crime and have not yet read this classic, I’d definitely recommend it.
I bought this a little while ago because this book has been on my radar for a while and like most people in the public, Ted Bundy name was a familiar one that elicited fear. He killed and raped women by pretending to be injured and luring them to his car, before dumping the bodies. He was an evil man, and the public has a fascination with evil men. People talk about serial killers with awe, make movies about them, write books about their crimes, and it's weird to put people who commit large-scale crimes against humanity on the same scale of importance in our pop-cultural lexicon with athletes and scientists. It feels almost like a celebration of their crimes, even though I know it's (hopefully) not meant to be that way.
Ann Rule was a famous true crime author who worked in crime and law, and understood how things worked in a way that some crime authors don't. She was also in a distinctly unique position in that she worked alongside Ted Bundy himself at a crisis hotline for people who were considering suicide and even thought of him as a friend. Naturally, she was horrified when she found out who he was and what he had done, and I think her brain was frantically trying to do damage control, to figure out how-- or even if-- she'd been fooled, and why.
There's nothing wrong with THE STRANGER BESIDE ME on a purely technical level. The writing is fine and it seems well-researched. It just feels incredibly dull reading about the ordinary private life of a man who committed huge crimes. I don't want to hear about his family life, and I don't want to get to know each young woman whose life he cut short, and who probably died in fear. I don't think crimes like these should be normalized, and if THE STRANGER BESIDE ME was an exercise in catharsis for Ann Rule and gave her the closure she needed, that's fine. But I personally felt bored and a little despairing while reading this, and that's not what I want to feel when I read.
Generally I do not read much of non-fiction but I do make an exception for True crime stories. I have read another book by Ann Rule and the thing I like about her books is that even though they are non-fiction they read like a fiction story.
This book is about the famous serial killer Ted Bundy who terrorized U.S in the 70's. The story is told from perspective of his close friend (Ann Rule) who had known him before he was ever suspected in any of the killings.
The story takes us back to Ted's childhood, his years as youth, the time he met Ann Rule, his relationships and then the series of murders and rapes. We also get a glimpse of the letters exchanged between Ted and Ann Rule during his imprisonment.
There is the police case, how the various court cases against him went on and how he escaped twice successfully. I found the investigation procedures and the court trials really good to read.
There was a time when his guilt was not proven and he managed to escape out of Jail and was applauded and treated as a celebrity among the people. Even when he was on trial there were 'Ted Bundy Groupies' in the court hearing. This makes me think either people are really stupid or heartless or just Stupid!!
The appalling part was he was convicted at one time for 36 murders and he gave a statement saying "Add one more digit to that and you'll have it..."
The rape scenes and the killings were really distressing and at one time he attacked multiple girls in one night (up to 5).
He was brutal and the things he did to the girls were completely horrifying. He took girls from Deserted streets, Bars, Parks, In broad daylight in front of 100's of witnesses or from the safety of their own home. At one time I felt no girl is safe from him in spite of where she is.
It took me unusually long (as per my reading speed) to complete this as I could not continue reading this and had to put it down and take a breather (not because it is written badly but because it is gruesome)
Note: The reason this is not a 5 star read for me is, as at times there was too much info dump on names and description of people that did not matter and much of this information was sometimes repetitive.
3.5/5 stars. Full disclosure that I had a little less than 100 pages left, but since this is nearly 600 pages, I thought it was still worth posting a review. I was riveted from the beginning, but my interest slowly dwindled while reading. I adored her writing style but at a certain point I just wasn't interested in learning more about Ted Bundy. If you're fascinated by him, this is certainly worth a ready but if you're reading it only because you're mildly interested in serial killers..you're going to wish it was shorter.
This book was absolutely riveting. I had started reading it a while ago, but was reading another book as well and had set it aside for a while. When I picked it up again, I simply could not put it down.
Ann Rule is one of the premiere true crime writers, but what made this one special was that she had been friends with Ted Bundy (and had worked with him at a Crisis Hotline!) before he was a suspect in the myriad heinous crimes he eventually confessed to a few days before he was executed.
The most riveting thing about the book was the dichotomy that was Ted Bundy. Outwardly, especially in the beginning, he was a handsome, intelligent, charming, and successful man who had the world on a string. Inwardly, he was a mess - not psychotic, as psychologists/psychiatrists would later determine, but an "antisocial personality." He had a deep-seeded hatred for women and all of his victims were the same physical type as a woman who had scorned him in college.
In the end, Bundy had more and more trouble keeping his darker side hidden from the world. His later crimes (esp. the ones at the Chi Omega sorority at FSU) showed that after so long without being able to commit a crime (he had been in jail in Colorado for many months and had escaped to Florida), he couldn't control his impulses and ended up attacking four women (killing two of them) in a span of 15 minutes with no one hearing a thing!
After his arrest in Florida, he of course maintained his innocence, saying he was being railroaded by the justice system. He also constantly whined about the incompetence of his lawyers and displayed his own sense of intellectual superiority by representing himself at his trials. He was eventually convicted of three murders and was given three death sentences.
Ann Rule continued to correspond with Bundy in prison, even providing money for his commissary fund, almost until the end. She was still a loyal friend, but not to the point where she believed unfailingly in his innocence. She knew he had done what he had been accused and convicted of. But she could also remember the young man who had been such a good friend to her in the past.
Bundy was executed on January 24, 1989 in Florida's electric chair at Raiford Prison. Ann did not attend, but watched the coverage on television during an interview she was giving. She saw the tell-tale dimming of the prison lights and knew that Ted was dead (after many previous stays of execution).
Rule's book is very powerful and gives a good glimpse into the way a serial killer can blend so easily into mainstream society while at the same time committing unspeakable horrors against members of that same society.
I highly recommend this book.
P.S. - I double-checked all the locks on my doors and windows when I finshed this book. Chilling. Very chilling.
The book packs a punch because of its content not its writing.
There are really two stories here: 1) The horrific and fantastical story of Ted Bundy 2) The story of Ann Rule
I loved the one and was disappointed in the other.
This almost feels like fan fiction rather than investigative non-fiction. Some details were included only because the people asked the author to do so rather than these additions adding anything of value to the story.
I found it interesting that the author fell under Bundy’s spell as much as the women that she criticized, who supported him during his incarceration, calling, writing and sending money to him.
And to be honest I still doubt their deep special friendship. As I understand it, they worked together 1 night a week for a few months, attended a few social functions with the bulk of their interaction relying on sporadic calls and letters. I don’t doubt that Ann got to know Bundy in a way that made her viewpoint unique, but it felt as if she wanted to convince readers that their connection was one of a kind snowflake unique.
The story of Bundy himself was what fascinated me and kept me coming back to this book that could have benefited from an editor. His crimes were shocking, the audacity of some of his actions were even more so and the police procedures in the 1970’s were sorely lacking in so many respects.
I don’t know the US legal system but I was completely gobsmacked to learn that Bundy was allowed to represent himself in court as he was a law school dropout not a graduate.
I have no regrets reading it, but I am hesitant to recommend this particular book about Ted Bundy. I would suggest waiting for the movie ” Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile”
This book scared the ever-living crap outta me, guys.(Which, admittedly, really isn't very hard to do... but still.)
Call me uncultured if you must, but the only thing I knew about Ted Bundy before reading this was that he was a serial killer. That's literally the only bit of information I knew, so it goes without saying that this book taught me a whole heck of a lot.
I don't know that I am happy to now be haunted by the idea of this mans evil, sadistic behavior, but it was really interesting and I am glad I spent the time reading it. (I was especially happy to have the updated/revised version with the added chapters.)
Ann Rule did a phenomenal job detailing the events in a way that was easy to understand, both in prose and timeline. I thought her account of the whole insane debacle was, at the very least, fair - despite having been such close friends with Ted, she did not let anything other than facts sway her opinion in reference to his guilt (or seeming lack of in the very beginning.)
This was really in-depth, well-rounded and very well written. Despite newfound mild auditory hallucinations, (kidding! - or am I?) I very much enjoyed my time with this book.
This shall be my last dip into the True Crime genre for a while. As mentioned in a previous review, I have developed some pet peeves over time and this book and the one before it has checked one of those boxes with the deepest shade of blood red ink.
This book was mostly about Ted Bundy, but it contained a lot about the author and how Ted Bundy’s existence affected her. For every moment of Bundy’s life she mentioned, she matched it with information regarding whatever was going on in her life at that time. While she went on and on about herself, I would recite in my head, “I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care”. When I hit the updated sections at the end of the book, I cringed even harder because the all about her got even worse. With not a lot of new material regarding Bundy, she resorted to filling it by reanalyzing previous thoughts and experiences she had involving him and how they might have changed.
The only saving grace that kept this out of the two star range was that it did contain enough information about Ted Bundy to get past all her filler. It followed a clear timeline and once you cut out her speculations regarding why he thought or acted in the way he did, you could piece together the main points. I was left filling satisfied enough to not spend too much time googling him on my own.