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If you only read one thing this year... make it The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule

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The Stranger Beside Me tells the gruesome story of Ted Bundy’s life and murders, but from a strikingly personal perspective. Ann Rule, a former police officer, knew Ted Bundy, even considered him a close friend, yet had no idea what was underneath his charming and gentlemanly exterior; a brutal murderer. 

(Image: barnsandnoble.com) 

Rule met Bundy in 1971 whilst working as a volunteer at a Crisis Clinic in Seattle, they developed a friendship over years. The book documents the beginnings of their friendship and how it changes over the years, right up until Bundy’s execution in 1989. The 2018 publication has an added chapter, The Final Chapter?, written in 2008, 28 years after she originally published the book. This added chapter tells of the emails and responses she has received over the years after the first edition of this book was published. Some first-hand accounts of girls who think they came into contact with Bundy but survived to tell the tale. She then goes on to answer some questions she has been asked numerous times, such as ‘Wasn’t Ted Bundy really nice… underneath?’ to which she simply answers ‘No.’

The perspective of this novel is very interesting in the fact that Rule now knows Ted Bundy was a killer. However, she describes a man whom she trusted and found charming, funny and clever, whom she would never have expected to be the perpetrator of these horrific crimes. However, it is important to note that Rule in no way supports Bundy but tells her own personal story of him. She writes with understanding, yet keeps objective and impartial throughout, perhaps a sign of her former career in the police force.  

 

(Image: goodreads.com - Ann Rule)

 

The book contains a handwritten letter from Bundy to Rule in February 1978, which was highly requested after earlier versions of the book were published. Rule throughout the book explains how she and many others were blindsided by Bundy and his ‘fake’ persona. At the beginning of the book Rule tells of how Bundy disguised himself as a student, and started a new life in Tallahassee, Florida, showing just how deceptive a person Bundy was. Rule also describes the day of Bundy's execution on January 24th,1989, through a very descriptive and detailed first hand account from Clark Hoshall Jr., DMD, who was there on the day Ted Bundy met 'Old Sparky', which Ann wasn't. At the end of the book Rule describes the 24 hours before Bundy's execution and describes what she remembers him as is a 'myth' and that he had lied to her and destroyed so many lives. 

(Image: variety.com - Zac Efron and Lily Collins in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile)

The book has been described as “The quintessential true-crime story… [A] mesmerizing tale… Prepare yourself for a few late nights of reading” (Bookreporter.com) and “Overwhelming!” (Houston Post). If you only read one book this year, make it The Stranger Beside Me. With the release of the film Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, in 2019, staring Zac Efron and Lily Collins, this is the perfect time to read The Stranger Beside Me. It comes at the genre of True-crime with a different angle to many others, and that is one of the reasons it is so gripping and compelling to read. You won’t be able to put it down, some late-night reading sessions are inevitable, when you start you won’t be able to stop.


The Stranger Beside Me is published by Sphere (Amazon £11.50).

 




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