Book Review #135 – The Stranger Beside Me, by Ann Rule

Hey everyone!

Here is my review for The Stranger Beside Me, by Ann Rule.

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Not long ago, true crime writer Ann Rule recalls lying on an operating table. The anesthesiologist leaned over before putting her to sleep. “Ann,” the anesthesiologist said softly, “tell me, what was Ted Bundy really like?” Despite meeting Florida’s electric chair in 1989, the subject of Rule’s bestselling book continues to haunt her. Rule and Bundy were friends. They met in 1971 at a Seattle crisis clinic, where they shared the late shift answering a suicide hotline. Their subsequent conversations, meetings, and letters spanned the rest of Bundy’s life as he evolved into one of the century’s most notorious serial killers. It’s been 20 years since Rule first penned this chilling account. But the story–and her 2000 update–will still have readers reaching for their Xanax. No gratuitous gore here; just the basic, bone-chilling evidence. In fact, like a protective mother shielding us from horrors too awful to mention, Rule seems to avoid delving too deeply into crime scene descriptions. She devotes one paragraph in her new afterword to her discovery that Bundy engaged in necrophilia and returned to the scenes of his crimes to “line dead lips and eyes with garish makeup and to put blush on pale cheeks.” She tells readers that John Hinckley, who shot Ronald Reagan, and David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam Killer, traded prison correspondences with Bundy. And she hints that Bundy’s insatiable killer instincts may have started when he was a 14-year-old paperboy. (Ann Marie Burr, an 8-year-old girl on his route, mysteriously disappeared in the middle of the night and has never been found.) The skimpy update is over too soon, leaving readers wanting more and offering further proof of the public’s never-ending fascination with serial killers. –Jodi Mailander Farrell



  • will confirm that Bundy was the most functional psychopath ever



  • so dry and emotionless
  • the writing isn’t even good
  • nothing you read here couldn’t be found in any other book or article about Bundy



God, I’m so disappointed! I’ve been obsessed with serial killers and real life murder pretty much all my existence but this book particularly had me really interested because Rule actually knew Bundy. I was expecting a bit of insight on who he seemed to be and what was like to actually be someone close to him. But that was not what I got from this book. It’s just such a dry narrative. There’s nothing really personal or that might appeal to others. And it’s not like it’s analytical even. Nope, it’s just so dry! Rule makes a terrible job at trying to make her readers feel anything at all. Even the descriptions of Bundy’s victims are so meh. None of that or even her insight on Bundy was something I haven’t heard before. At a point, I started to wonder if he wasn’t just a simple acquaintance of hers because she didn’t see to even have that much information to give to the reader. She just told a portrait of a high functioning psychopath and his path in life as I already knew. Maybe this is a read for someone totally unaware of Bundy but even in that case, I suspect this read won’t be that interesting because the writing is kinda bad. There’s many repetitive sentences and even some that don’t make any sense at all. I doubt she had an editor but the need of one is quite evident. Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend anyone this book but instead, just the Wikipedia page on Ted Bundy.

Anyone has good recs for real life crime books? Would love to read more of them.

See you guys soon,



2 thoughts on “Book Review #135 – The Stranger Beside Me, by Ann Rule

  1. I also thought that the part where she worked with Ted Bundy was going to way more enlightening than it was. I used to be a big true crime book fan, but have kind of gotten out of them since I started blogging. I would recommend– Helter Skelter (if you haven’t read that yet, the prosecutor does an AWESOME job at giving all the details), Columbine by Dave Cullen was pretty good, Anyone You Want Me to Be by John Douglas is a fave of mine because that case isn’t that publicized but the story takes so many twists!! Also, Catherine Crier wrote a book about Scott Peterson that I thought was good.

    I’d also love recs if you have any!!


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