28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An indepth look at the life and crimes of Ted Bundy.
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...
Published on 10 Jun 2004 by Chris Hall
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Overall well written, but.........
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...
Published on 5 Sep 2008 by Bezerus Bezby
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An indepth look at the life and crimes of Ted Bundy.,
This review is from: Rule Ann : Stranger beside ME (Revised Edn) (Signet) (Mass Market Paperback)
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.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Overall well written, but.........,
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.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping reading, couldn't put it down!!,
By A Customer
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.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ann Rule is fantastic,
This review is from: Rule Ann : Stranger beside ME (Signet) (Mass Market Paperback)
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!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant insight into the man of many faces,
By A Customer
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 .
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still great after 17 years !,
This review is from: The Stranger Beside Me (Mass Market Paperback)
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.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Stranger Beside Me,
By A Customer
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 .....
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best "true crime" books in my collection,
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.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cheapness Of Life,
In Ted Bundy's opinion it didn't matter so much if someone was removed from the Earth. I believe he was quoted as saying something like "What difference does one less person make?" This makes for a gripping tale.
This book grabbed me in much the same way as Capote's "In Cold Blood" or Mailer's "The Executioner's Song" did. The difference between those books of true crime & this one under discussion is that the writer Ann Rule was a pretty close confidante of Bundy going back to the early 1970's where they worked in a phone-in crisis clinic side-by-side. They also continued to exchange letters & phone calls almost right up to his execution. Therefore she has a penetrative insight into the man-made monster.
I would recommend this book to anyone who may be interested in the extremes of human behaviour & the way a personality can exist in a frighteningly true Jekyll & Hyde way. Bundy was full of contradictions which this book sheds some light on & Ann Rule produced a brilliant work of Art. The sad truth though is even now it isn't entirely clear what drove Bundy to do what he did (the extremes of depression was an idea put forward by one psychiatrist in the book). What is very clear however is that the description of his last victim, 12 year old Kimberley Leach, being discovered mangled beyond recognition in a condemned pigshed is too grotesquely miserable for the human mind to contemplate.
The biggest compliment I can give to this book is that when I finished the last page I cried my eyes out.
5.0 out of 5 stars The writer and the vampire,
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It is a quite remarkable coincidence, I think, that a crime writer should personally know a serial killer before they know that the person in question is indeed a slayer of multiple people. Many crime writers and detectives may come to know a serial killer once he has been apprehended, but Ann Rule considered Bundy a pretty good friend some time before he was first arrested in 1975. So I can't really agree with a number of other reviewers who upbraid Rule for apparently seeking to capitalize commercially on what they say was only a tenuous friendship or for maintaining contact with Bundy once the real horror became apparent. Rule clearly did know him fairly well and subsequently struggled to understand how the sexual deviant that Bundy was revealed to be fitted with the charming and personable young man she had worked with in 1972-3.
This dichotomy is present throughout the book and Rule clearly struggles with it. When he was first arrested in 1975, could Rule have simply resolved to ditch Bundy, given that she had already committed to writing a book about the murder victims killed by (up to that point) persons unknown? Could she and should she have simply broken off relations with Bundy once his guilt had been established at his 1979 Miami trial? It is perhaps easy for readers to be critical of Rule for maintaining relations and showing acts of kindness to a murderer, but then this kindness was borne out of concern for someone she had known personally and whom she had liked. Unlike Carol Ann Boone and the Bundy groupies, Rule was not in the grip of some ridiculous infatuation with Bundy. For Rule, as is made clear in the rather moving closing passages of the book, the entire series of events from Bundy's childhood through to his demonic impulses and the horrible fates of the innocent victims, was an utter human tragedy.
And this raises the question of who Bundy was and how he became what he did. There is no doubt that he was a sociopath. And there is little doubt that the confusion surrounding his birth and the rejection that he doubtless felt in this regard was a factor in his future offending. So was the rejection he experienced from Stephanie Brooks, which is why he tended to target brunettes with certain hairstyles.
And, as with so many serial killers, Bundy did not, despite his characteristically shifty and evasive statements, enjoy an upbringing in a solid Christian home. It is quite possible that Bundy was a child of incest and that his tyrannical and sadistic grandfather (interestingly, himself quite possibly also a devotee of pornography) was actually his father. Whatever the truth of the circumstances of his upbringing, Bundy's was clearly not a conventional one. True, many people go through unconventional and troubled childhoods and yet still turn out to be normal and productive citizens, but we cannot ignore the fact that, with a number of serial killers - Bundy, West, Shipman - the provenance of their offending lies - in part at least - in the turmoil of their childhoods.
The psychologist, Oliver James, however, was reproached recently for advancing a few tentative psychological theories as to the origins of Jimmy Savile's prolific sex offending, with some interesting insights as to how such behaviour often has its roots in a dysfunctional family setting and an unhealthy relationship with a child's parents. Too little love, or indeed too much, can be a bad thing in a child's formative years. But reviewers were not interested in understanding, instead preferring to glibly condemn, like the crowds outside Florida State Prison on the morning of Bundy's execution. But to understand is not to excuse or exonerate. Bundy was a monster, to be sure, who understood perfectly well what he was doing and showed no mercy to his victims, especially to poor 12 year old Kimberly Leach.
This is a well-written, fast-paced account about a very damaged, hollow and rootless individual. Someone who, in his own words, was a 'vampire' who stalked and relished the midnight hour. It is a creepy and unsettling read and not for the faint of heart. But it has earned its place amongst the true crime classics.
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The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule