Book Review: Don’t Trust Hot, Smart, Injured Dudes

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

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This should be on every true crime buff’s reading list. I’d grown up hearing about Ann Rule and Ted Bundy from my mom because she loved this book and was fascinated by their friendship. Theirs is a story so unique that it all seemed eerily coincidental; an up and coming investigative journalist forms a big sister/little brother bond with a man who’d become one of the most prolific serial killers of all time. It’s stranger than fiction and makes for remarkable storytelling.

If the relationship between Ann and Ted that make this book worth reading, it’s also what made me feel frustrated at times; I was exasperated by how long it took Ann to finally give in and accept that her Ted was THE Ted. But once I pushed ahead, I came around and realized that one can never know what we’d feel in this bizarre and extraordinary situation.

The reason I couldn’t give this book five stars is because it does drag once the legal proceedings start. One can’t fault Rule for wanting to include as much detail as possible, especially since she was actively involved, but that is the part that slows it down. Is it worth pushing through until the end? Absolutely.

The edition I read had both a forward and afterward by Rule. Both spoke to the bewilderment she felt when writing the book and better explains how she was one of many women/people manipulated by Ted Bundy. This was Ann Rule’s first true crime book and her insights and intellect shine through; it’s no wonder she built a storied career for herself.

ALSO, this book is,as you might imagine, pretty disturbing and terrifying at parts. Bundy’s ability to assimilate so well into society was unsettling. Makes you look twice at good-looking, helpful strangers.

It takes far longer to really, truly know the people in our lives than we can ever anticipate. Sometimes we never know the deepest parts of them and sometimes when we finally do see those parts, we’re disillusioned and/or heartbroken. In Rule’s case, she was also horrified.

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