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Ann Rule is arguably the most talented and dedicated true crime authors ever. Her indepth research is second to none, and this book is possibly her best. She was actually one of Ted Bundy's closest friends years ago, when later the whole truth about the charming man she used to seek friendship in, came to light. This is the harrowing story of the serial killer Ted Bundy and the life he lived. Not often do you come across a true crime book with so much indepth knowledge and background information. Ann really does paint the picture of how Ted grew up, and how his life took such a dramatic twist towards such depraved actions. Throughout the book, Ann makes intellegant references and psychological analysis about his actions, creating an incredibly informative piece of work. It is written in an easy to follow and enjoyable way, avoiding tedious legal proceedings and irrelevant wild goose chases, that other true crime writers feel they have to document.
Being in the situation she was, Ann has been able to write about the chacter Ted was from a first hand point of view. I guarantee that you will find this book riverting and difficult to put down, especially if you have an interest in the life of serial killers. Some of the descriptions of Ted's crimes are quite graphic and so I should warn anyone who is a little sensitive that this book may be a little disturbing.
A highly recommended book to anyone with even the slightest interest in this subject matter. A book for Ann to be truly proud of.
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VINE VOICEon 15 January 2012
As the plot of a fiction novel, few would believe the tale of a middle aged woman befriending a younger man as they took telephone calls at a Crisis Centre and then being asked to write a book on a series of murders that would ultimately prove to have been carried out by that very same man she'd known years before. Well as the old adage goes, the truth can often be much stranger than fiction.

Ann Rule did indeed meet a young Theodore Robert Bundy in such a fashion and she was so impressed by the young man that she would spend years flying in the face of what was becoming so obvious to others involved with the case, that Bundy was indeed one of the worst serial killers in American history. Luckily for us readers this coincidence/fate befell a very talented writer who could do justice to the whole story.

The tale of Ted Bundy is well known by now, I would imagine, to most who would have interest in reading the book. Of course the detail in here is immense as well and leaves little part of the story untold. It looks at the murders, the victims and reasons what might have turned Bundy into the undoubted monster he truly was (even if it is inconclusive on that score because even today no-one can be sure what drove Bundy to do what he did and any proclamations made by the man himself were very self-serving).

Some will be surprised at the non-committal tone that Rule adopts for a large portion of the text but as she shows the Ted Bundy she knew was nothing like the sort of man who would murder scores of innocent women simply because they looked like the first love of his life. I, for one, found the tone startlingly fresh; there are no attempts by Rule to suggest that she "knew all along" (note how many crimes these days have "friends" rushing to the newspapers to tell them that they always thought there was something strange about the newly caught criminal) and is even very candid about how, even with the evidence stacking up, she believed in his innocence long after most observers had realised the truth.

Rule wasn't the only one to fall prey to the mentally manipulative Bundy, as the book shows, and even allowing for that Rule must have been aware when writing the book that it wouldn't show her in the best light in that sense but such is the honesty (and empathy with the victims) you can't help but admire Rule for telling the story like it was, without the benefit of hindsight.

Of course the "friendship" angle comes dangerously close to being overplayed at times (Bundy and Rule were former work acquaintances who kept in occasional touch rather than best friends) but I think that might be more to do with the hype that surrounded the book and the project rather than Rule's writing. As a straightforward look at the Bundy case this book would be fascinating enough; with the real life connection it's becomes an unmissable book for anyone with an interest in True Crime.
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on 1 May 1999
It must have been hard for Ann Rule to write this book as the Ted Bundy she knew was nothing like the cold blooded killer that he really was. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and couldn't put it down! She is a fantastic author and I have read several of her other true crime books, too. Keep up the good work.
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VINE VOICEon 5 September 2008
Ann Rule offers a comprehensive insight into events as they unforded when one of the worlds most prolific serial killers, Ted Bundy committed his terrible crimes and was eventually brought to justice. It does make it more interesting that Rule was a personal friend of Ted Bundy, but in my opinion, it also makes it more distasteful. Rule did eventually accept that Bundy was guilty, but she appeared to take an awful lot of persuading. There were only a few brief moments when Rule appeared to comprehend exactly how ghastly and horrific Bundy's crimes were, (a look at photos of crime scenes was one of these) and generally she seemed to hold the steadfast opinion that there was a great possiblity that Bundy was innocent. Perhaps others would find this honest and brave. I found it frustrating and I felt Rule minimised one of Bundy's crimes where he kidnapped a young woman who did manage to escape.

I suppose I felt that Rule was slightly detached from what Bundy actually did in a way that perhaps a writer who had not personally known Ted Bundy, but who could not fail to be shocked and moved by his grotesque crimes may have been. Indeed, Rule offered very little information on Bundy since he only confided in her about how awful prison was and did not actually confess his crimes. Part of me suspects that Rule was not immune to Bundy's supposed charm as she would like to have thought.

Bundy fancied himself as a celeb. He was a monster and I feel Rule found it difficult to accept this. I feel greatly for the families of the young women whose lives Bundy took and hope they have managed to find some peace in life.
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on 29 December 2005
This is the second book of Ann Rule's that I bought - the first - "You Belong to Me", I bought by accident and was enthralled by the writing and the detail of the story. Having read the list of other books she had written I came upon "The Stranger Beside Me" and ordered it straight away. I think it's probably morbid fascination on my part with these types of books in general and the fact that it was about Ted Bundy attracted me immediately but also because the author was directly linked to the killer. The irony is bitter-sweet in that she does not find out that her friend is the man she is actually writing about until a long way into the invesitgation. I also think the fact that she works closely with the police from her vantage point gives another dimension to the book.
The book does not linger unecessarily on the gory details of the actual murders but draws you in to the person and many characters of Ted as seen from a perspective which is unique to the author. At times the writing is melancholy as Ann tried to reconcile her feelings for her friend but also her morality and empathy with the victim's families, being a mother herself.
The book is littered with short anecdotes throughout the legal wranglings that ensue which only serve to endear the many people involved in this difficult case, at times, Ted included.
Get this book, I have become a very big fan and am attempting to read her entire repertoire!
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on 30 September 2001
This is the third ted bundy book i have read,and id have to say its the best.The others books were good but this one describes Ann Rules relationship before she knew of his horrific crimes,and how it took here so long to belive they were true.She saw ted as a young bright and brillant man,which is what makes this book so good.A Must read book .
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on 24 January 2016
This review is in 2 parts. As an historical record of Bundy's case as it unfolded it is peerless. It is fascinating to see Bundy's thoughts (what he wanted to present publicly at least) as his charge sheet grew from kidnapping to multiple murder in various States. The minutiae of his various legal objections to certain Judges, his prison conditions, his defence team are all excellent indicators of just how difficult Bundy was to contain. Indeed, apart from the obvious horror to his crimes, he comes across as unlikeable, a petty whiner who is endlessly complaining. The only negative is the infuriating tone of the book toward Bundy. I understand that Ted could make himself likeable and many fell for his charm, but Rule seems to sympathise with Ted even as the evidence piles up and points to depravity beyond belief. "Ted needed someone," is a phrase repeated and I suppose in the sense of Christian charity, she did right. Yet there is a willful blindness to his grandstanding about how he outsmarted the police, the week long escape in Colorado then flight to Florida. I'm being unkind I suppose, but I feel her scent of a good story outweighed the horror at the crime and she knew keeping ted sweet was a savvy, if not entirely altruistic move.

All that said, this is a superb piece that takes you right up to Teds trial and beyond. Read as a companion piece to Ted Bundy: Conversations with a Killer by stephen Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth, you will have as clear a picture as you can get on a fascinating story.
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on 21 October 2015
I'm not sure if I'd call this a true crime classic. I think one of the problems with writing the definitive Ted Bundy book is the fact that none of the authors really know all the details of his crimes. It seems he was only completely honest with Bob Keppel and save for a few details Keppel will likely take it to his grave. The absence of the really horrifying details is a problem for any true crime book in my opinion. Not just because those details help us to really imagine what the killer experienced but also what the police experienced. Even though she had connections to the police and knew some of the people working the case she's chosen to focus primarily on her perspective. The parts that don't somehow involve her feel slightly half hearted. I do wish more emphasis was put on the police's perspective instead of hers. Where this book really scores is the unique fact that Ann Rule had known Bundy prior to his capture and corresponded with him in prison. You wont get much insight into the real Ted because he kept that largely hidden but her first hand descriptions of the man he portrayed and the one she knew as a smart and kind man is fascinating. You won't get insight like that in any other book on Bundy. How valuable that is to the overall picture is for you to decide but her friendship with him has definitely affected how Rule has written this book.

There may be other books on Bundy worth reading (they may even be better as true crime books) but even though Rule's proximity to the events have not necessarily been good for this as a true crime book it does mean it's essential. I know Keppel wrote a book about The Green River killer and how Bundy assisted him in profiling the killer. I haven't read it yet and I doubt Keppel disclosed much of Bundy's hours of confessions to him in it but it might also be invaluable.

There's just a few other points I'd like to make. The title of the book and the cover are both terrible. They make it seem more like a romance novel. The other thing is the print quality wasn't great. It's often hard to read.
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on 27 February 2007
I first read " The Stranger Beside Me " 17 years ago . I cannot believe it was that long ago when I was a young pup just getting interesting in the world of true crime and upon opening the cover of the latest edition of " Murder Casebook" magazine - discovered the world of Ted Bundy. I had never heard of him before but I was totally blown away by his story and over the years everyone else that I passed it on to felt the same. I recently read the updated edition , I couldnt put book down and finished it in a fortnight. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants the definative account of the Ted Bundy case. I can also recommend " The Only Living Witness " aswell. All I need to do now is get my hands on " Defending the Devil " by Polly Nelson & " The Phantom Prince " by Liz kendal . Others to look out for are " The Deliberate Stranger " Richard Larson & " Conversations with a killer " ( a continuation of the " Only Living Witness" book I believe. Whether its a sin of not - I cant read enough about Ted.

Check out Anne Rule's " Green River , Running Red " too - about the Green River Killer - Gary Ridgeway - excellent.
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on 11 July 2005
This is one of the most facinating book ever written about Ted Bundy. I started reading Ann Rule ten years ago and I think this is the best book she has ever written. That is saying something because all her books are brilliant.
She brings to life the terrifing time which Ted Bundy held the USA in his hand and it shows her thoughts and emotions when she came to the realisation that her close friend was .....
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