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The Stranger Beside Me Mass Market Paperback – December 30, 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 839 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com 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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"As dramatic and chilling as a bedroom window shattering at midnight." -- The New York Times

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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 (839 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,275 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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