Tag Archive | Ann Rule

Book Review: The Stranger Beside Me

The Stranger Beside Me: Ted Bundy: The Shocking Inside Story, by Ann Rule

I wasn’t even born yet when Ted Bundy started killing women in Western Washington.  I still wasn’t born when he moved on to other states and continued to kill women.  I was only a toddler when he was finally caught for his murders in Florida.  Yet somehow the story of Ted Bundy was frequently told while I was growing up, a cautionary tale told among friends.  It didn’t help that I also grew up in a time when the Green River Killer was murdering south of Seattle, and that Ted Bundy was executed when I was in middle school.

The Stranger Beside Me: Ted Bundy: The Shocking Inside Story

Author Ann Rule knew Bundy, spending a few years in the 1970s working with him for, of all places, a Rape Crisis Hotline.  Once a week she worked a volunteer shift with him, answering calls and talking during the quiet hours.  She described him as kind, attentive, sweet, intelligent, and not someone she ever suspected of murdering multiple women in his spare time.  Except there was enough of a nagging doubt that she did turn his name into investigators when eyewitnesses described a young man named “Ted”, who drove a Volkswagen Beetle, talking to one of the murder victims.  She wasn’t the only one who had doubts.

Rule was writing crime stories for a local magazine, and trying to break into writing a book.  So she knew she had her subject when her friend Ted was arrested in Utah for kidnapping and murder, but he swore he was innocent.  She continued to correspond with Bundy while he was awaiting trial, always being honest and letting him know that she would use their correspondence in whatever she wrote.  Of course, he insisted that the book would be clearing his name.

The Stranger Beside me details almost 20 years of history between the author and the murderer, detailing his murders in six different states, his arrests, his escapes, his trials, and ultimately his execution in 1989.  She writes candidly about the conflict of coming to a gradual realization that the man she saw as kind and gentle, was really a sadistic, violent, psychopath.  The book goes into detail on the nature of his crimes, juxtaposed with his assertions of innocence, his frustrations with law enforcement and his public defenders, and a system he believed was unfairly portraying him as a monster.

Now, of course, it is clear that Bundy was a monster.  But as Rule shows, that wasn’t always so indisputable.  Bundy was probably one of the very worst, but unfortunately after reading, you can’t help but realize that there truly is evil walking among us.

4 stars.