Book review – The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule

Caidyn's review (1)

The Stranger Beside Me


CW: serial killings, rape, necrophilia, and graphic descriptions of crimes

Earlier this year, I read Green River, Running Red and decided that I needed to give this book another chance. Years ago, I tried reading it, got bored, and then stopped reading it. I couldn’t get into it and I thought the story was more about the author than Ted Bundy.

Now, a bit older, I can see its strengths.

Yes, it focuses a lot on Ann Rule. That’s because, in a way, the book was her trying to make sense of her friendship with Ted Bundy. As most people know, they worked together as volunteers at a suicide hotline. He saved lives before he became a serial killer. Hell, he even had a degree in psychology and tried law school.

In this book, Rule tries making sense of what happened. She even admits in the beginning that some of the conclusions she came to at first were wrong. Ted Bundy was not insane. He was aware of what he was doing and how it was wrong. He never learned the social cues that would have clued him in that he was going to get caught. He was, in short, a psychopath.

I came to really enjoy this as Rule’s journey from not being able to believe it, to being able to believe it with the insanity caveat, and, finally, to realizing that there were two Ted Bundys that she knew. The one who cared for others and walked her to her car at night, and the one who brutally attacked women.

The chapter that really got to me was the one that detailed the killing spree he went on in Florida, starting with the sorority attacks and ending with the abduction, rape, and murder of twelve-year-old Kimberly Leach. This was the only point that Rule went into a lot of detail because it’s the one case where we know exactly what happened. Everyone else, we don’t know.

What we know is that he would return to gravesites, put makeup on the women, and then perform necrophilic acts. It’s horrifying and I can’t imagine what it was like for her (or others who knew him) to believe that he was capable of such things.

Ted Bundy has always been an interest of mine. One of my first serial killers. And I’m glad that I’ve finally read a book about him.

Talk to me!
Have you read this? What are your thoughts on it?
If you’re a true crime junkie like me, who was your first serial killer?

14 thoughts on “Book review – The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule

  1. Great review! I liked how she tried to come to grips with her relationship with and impressions of him too. In the edition I read, there were multiple forewords/afterwords describing what’s changed in the interim years since it was published too. This is the only book of hers I’ve read but I want to try another one eventually, maybe the one you mentioned.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: December Wrap-up – BW Reviews

  3. Loved this book. I started reading her true crime books in high school, but didn’t get to this one until after college. I don’t know why I waited so long. I think the perspective of actually knowing him made this so much more interesting. If you liked this one, I would definitely suggest reading “Every Breath You Take.” That book totally destroyed me.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Book review – Ted Bundy: Conversations with a Killer by Stephen Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth – BW Reviews

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