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The Stranger Beside Me [Mass Market Paperback]

Ann Rule
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (739 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 30, 2008

Utterly unique in its astonishing intimacy, as jarringly frightening as when it first appeared, Ann Rule's The Stranger Beside Me defies our expectation that we would surely know if a monster lived among us, worked alongside of us, appeared as one of us. With a slow chill that intensifies with each heart-pounding page, Rule describes her dawning awareness that Ted Bundy, her sensitive coworker on a crisis hotline, was one of the most prolific serial killers in America. He would confess to killing at least thirty-six young women from coast to coast, and was eventually executed for three of those cases. Drawing from their correspondence that endured until shortly before Bundy's death, and striking a seamless balance between her deeply personal perspective and her role as a crime reporter on the hunt for a savage serial killer -- the brilliant and charismatic Bundy, the man she thought she knew -- Rule changed the course of true-crime literature with this unforgettable chronicle.

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Editorial Reviews Review

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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Rule met Bundy at a local crisis counseling center. Sharing long nights helping those who felt that suicide was the only option, they developed a friendship. She believed that she knew the handsome psychology major about to attend law school; however, she only knew a part of the man. Bundy was also a cold-blooded serial killer. This story follows Rule as she at first denies that the Bundy she knew could have committed these murders, and then the realization that he was ruthless, dangerous, and evil. Lorelei King is a phenomenal reader; her vocal characterizations never seem forced and fit seamlessly into the narration. Listeners will be spellbound and anxiously awaiting the next twist, when they are not double-locking their windows and doors. A wonderful tape that will find a home in all true crime collections. One warning: some of the descriptions of the crime scenes and murder victims are a bit graphic and may want to be avoided by those with delicate constitutions. Danna Bell-Russel, Library of Congress
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books; Reprint edition (December 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416559590
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416559597
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.4 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (739 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,352 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews
296 of 305 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Terrifying October 5, 2001
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I had heard of this book, of course; had wanted to read it for years, so when this 20th anniversary edition came out, I decided to give it a go. I had a pre-conceived notion: OK, this is going to be a really interesting biography of Ted Bundy, with the added attraction of having been written by a former dear friend. Fast, easy crime reading, I thought.
I was wrong. This story is so chilling, so frightening, it grips you in the gut. Ann Rule has simply stated the facts. No sensationalism, no gratuitous gore, no psychobabble. Just the facts. As they happend. And even though the reader might think of Ted Bundy as "old news," and even though he was executed in 1989, this book makes one check to see that the doors and windows are locked.
There are actually two stories here: one describes the gradual disintegration of a seemingly normal, affable, brilliant man into a sexual psychopath so evil, so methodical in his vicious killings, that one wonders if he was at all human. The other story is that of Ann Rule herself, a decent, hard-working, middle-aged mother of four who meets and befriends a nice young man working beside her in a crisis clinic. A man she regards as a younger brother; a man she views as a close and trusted friend. The slow but inexorable realization on Rule's part that this man is in fact an unspeakably violent serial killer is as painful to read as it was for her to experience.
Each victim is described in terms of such respect and such anguish that even a family member, I think, can feel that his or her daughter has been given a chance to shine, a chance to be more than a victim, more than a nameless number (8th girl killed, and so forth).
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97 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THIS KILLER BESIDE ME... February 6, 2005
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent true crime book. It has an unusual twist in that the author and the subject of the book, serial killer Ted Bundy, had a platonic relationship that arose from the time they were co-workers for a Seattle, Washington crisis center. Quite frankly, the author initially had no idea that Ted Bundy was anything other than what he appeared to be: a handsome, intelligent, charismatic, and articulate young man, who was, at the time, involved in local politics and later became a law student.

When he became the suspect in the disappearance and murders of a number of very young, pretty women, the author was in total disbelief. As the evidence mounted against her friend, the author, who is a former police officer, could not shut her eyes to the reality that Ted Bundy was actually a very disturbed individual who was guilty of all of which he was accused and probably guilty of other such crimes for which he was not accused for evidentiary reasons. Consequently, the author would suffer some angst for many years, as she struggled to reconcile the Ted Bundy that she thought she knew with the fiend who was compelled to commit so many vicious abductions, assaults, and murders. It is believed that at least thirty-five young women, and probably a good number more, died at the hands of Ted Bundy.

The author details the abductions, assaults, and murders of his victims from coast to coast, which crimes were ultimately to make Ted Bundy a nationwide household name, and an entity to be feared. The investigative efforts of law enforcement officers in the states of Washington, Utah, Colorado, and Florida are revealed, as are Ted Bundy's arrests and his trials.
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47 of 52 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stranger Than Fiction June 9, 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Without a doubt, the coincidence that found Ann Rule already acquainted with the prime suspect in a series of brutal murders is one that would be hard to believe if this were fiction. But it's not -- Rule, contracted to write the story of the elusive "Ted," discovers that her former colleague, Ted Bundy, curiously resembles the profile of the killer. Rule's later career as one of the most spectacularly successful true crime writers was significantly enhanced by the publication of this book. She writes with a surprising candor of the intimacy between herself and the Republican Party aspirant and law student who was eventually put to death after committing an unknown number of killings in an unknown number of states. Bundy's episodic rampages through the states of Utah, Washington and Florida are well known, and he is, in many ways, the most "famous" of modern serial killers. On the constitution of the serial killer as a modern identity, there's probably nothing better than Mark Selzer's book Serial Killers, a fascinating study of this modern pathology which traces the identity assumed by Bundy and other back to Jack the Ripper. The Ripper, as the first elusive, anonymous, random killer to gain notoriety in popular culture, offered an "identikit" profile for the serial killer which Bundy, as "Ted," fits perfectly.
Rule's book reads like a curious amalgam of true crime and romance fiction, and, in many ways, this is a love story of sorts. Rule's fascination with Bundy reminds us of the charismatic powers of the sociopathic personality, and its plaint, adaptable face in this competitive culture we find ourselves in.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Such a creepy and intriguing read!
Published 2 hours ago by Katy
5.0 out of 5 stars must read
I LOVE THIS BOOK! This is such a good read, I had a hard time putting it down
Published 3 days ago by Kaci Baker
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read True Crime novel.
The Stranger Beside Me was recommended to me on social media after I mentioned I had just read Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Andrew Canton
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great true crime book with a different insight into Ted Bundy's mind! Entertaining read for me!
Published 5 days ago by Tana Clark
5.0 out of 5 stars Good as always
As with her many other books they are the kind you cannot put down.
Published 5 days ago by Brenda kay Winters
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
I enjoyed it very much.
Published 6 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great book
Published 8 days ago by Jake
5.0 out of 5 stars but an excellent book of behind the scenes story
This was creepy, but an excellent book of behind the scenes story.
Published 11 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book about Ted Bundy
Ann Rule's best work. She actually worked with Ted Bundy and had no idea he was a serial killer ! Her insight is remarkable and her story is incredibly detailed. A must read !
Published 11 days ago by Woody
5.0 out of 5 stars Ann Rule is the best Crime Writer ever
In my opinion, Ann Rule is the best Crime Writer ever! Great book(s)!
Published 12 days ago by Jennifer Wilson
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More About the Author

I am an author of true-crime books, and I'm now working on my 25th and 26th: NO REGRETS and TOO LATE TO SAY GOODBYE. I have lived in the Seattle Area for many years. Before that, I grew up in Michigan and Pennsylvania, and lived in Texas, Oregon, and near Niagara Falls, N.Y. I always wanted to be a police officer--because my grandfather was a sheriff in Michigan. I joined the Seattle Police Department when I was 21, worked a year and a half, but then I couldn't pass the eye test. After five years of rejection slips, I finally sold my first article for $35! Soon, I found my niche when I began writing for the fact-detective magazines like TRUE DETECTIVE in 1970, and I wrote more than a thousand homicide cases, and went to hundreds of trials. My first book, THE STRANGER BESIDE ME, was about Ted Bundy, but, amazingly, I had the book contract to write about an unknown killer six months before Bundy was identified as the "Ted Killer." And I had known him all along, and didn't realize it; he was my partner in the all-night shift at Seattle's Crisis Clinic! Oddly, I started out writing humor, but unless you are Erma Bombeck, Garrison Keillor, or Fanny Flagg or Dave Barry, it's hard to make a living. Now I write humor for fun and for my friends.

I graduated in Creative Writing from the U of Washington, with minors in criminology and psychology. I also have an AA degree in law enforcement, taking classes in crime scene investigation, arrest, search and seizure, crime scene photography and forensic science. I've lectured in seminars all across America to detectives, prosecutors, and even at the FBI Academy. My subjects have been serial murder, high profile offenders, and women who kill. I write two books every year--one hardcover single-case book, and one Ann Rule's True Crime Files original paperback. Although people tend to think I write only about the Northwest, I go wherever the cases are most interesting. I've written about murder cases in Florida, Georgia, New York, Kansas, Texas, Hawaii, and California, too.

I raised five children on my own--starting out with articles for baby care magazines, Sunday features, true confessions, and then "slicks" like Cosmopolitan, Ladies' Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, and Reader's Digest. Now, my children are grown.

I like to keep in very close touch with my readers, and I'm able to do that with a weblog and a guestbook on my website pages at This also gives readers a chance to talk with each other, and its' a pretty lively spot--as I'm sure this page will be.

To choose a book subject, I weed through about 3,000 suggestions from readers. I'm looking for an "anti-hero" whose eventual arrest shocks those who knew him (or her): attractive, brilliant, charming, popular, wealthy, talented, and much admired in their communities--but really hiding behind masks.

I'm a reader myself, and I always have several books going at once--one upstairs, downstairs, near the bathtub, in my car, and beside my hammock (in the summer, of course!)

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Topic From this Discussion
What Happened to the Kindle version?
To my knowledge they've never had a kindle version of this book - I have checked a few times and not seen one. I really wish they would add one, though, it is one of Anne Rule's best.
Jan 2, 2012 by L Hoover |  See all 3 posts
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