The 2018 Reading Challenge calls for me to read a book of true crime. I’ve never been interested in this particular genre, so it wasn’t easy to decide on what to read. I was looking for a woman author as well, and my sister – an avid reader of true crime books – recommended Ann Rule. So when someone in the Goodreads group I belong to suggested a group read and discussion of Rule’s The Stranger Beside Me, I decided that was the book for me.
This is the story of Ted Bundy, one of the most infamous serial killers in American history. Ultimately convicted and executed for three murders, Bundy confessed to even more and is suspected of still others.
Before writing this book, Ann Rule wrote for detective magazines. A former police officer, she had a good working relationship with the officers in the Seattle area where she lived and worked. Rule met Bundy while they both volunteered at a crisis hotline center. They worked side by side to save the lives of desperate people.
The story Rule tells is terrifying and horribly fascinating. This is the first book I’ve read in this genre, so I don’t have anything to compare it to, but I think it is well done. Rule doesn’t go into a lot of graphic details about the crimes. She writes with a great deal of compassion for the victims and their families. At the same time, her personal anguish comes through vividly as she tries to reconcile the man she once knew to the killer he really was.
Rule clearly did a lot of research before writing this book. And she never comes across as if she is trying to present the horrible events for the sake of sensationalism. I felt she wrote with integrity, presenting facts as facts, and clearly indicating her own personal thoughts and opinions as such.
I don’t know if I’ll read more true crime, but I have to admit, I’m curious about Rule’s other books. I can’t help wondering how the feel of the book might be different without the personal connection she had to Bundy. So who knows. Maybe I’ll read another Ann Rule book one day.