Monday, April 16, 2007

Book Review: The Stranger Beside Me

I grew up aware of Ted Bundy, maybe it was because he was a "local" or the shocking nature of his crimes. I saw the Mark Harmon tv movie (which scared the CRAP) out of me and to my horror today attended a Ted's Dead celebration party in College.

I had not however, read Ann Rule's book. It is in fact, very good even today. She does take some license in describing his thoughts and emotions over some actions that I doubt she could really know, but does a wonderful job of showing the duality in his life. sent me (because I asked them to) the Updated 20th Anniversary Edition that has a note from the author penned in 2000. This follows the "Last Chapter" drafted in 1989 following Mr. Bundy's execution and the "Update" from 1986, which followed the Epilogue from 1980.

A little like the last 20 minutes of the final Lord of the Rings everything starts wrapping up very fast and you have to pay attention. Mr. Bundy did some last minute confessing which brought some information to the families. I wouldn't dare to call it closure.

Ms. Rule has a unique voice that suits the non-fiction crime genre. She's not overly solicitous about the gory details and doesn't try to beef up the story. It was a good read but more than a little creepy. I did feel sheepish about reading on the bus.

As an aside, my dear father met Mr. Bundy in 1973 or so when he was working on Governor Dan Evans' staff. Dad's recollection was that he was charming, but in that political way where someone smiles at you while you are talking but aren't really listening and the moment they turn away they stop smiling. Dad was convinced that his "murderous activities" hadn't yet begun at that point, but was surprised to learn that in fact they had.

So, all these years later - lesson number one... don't hitchhike, lesson number two if someone seems creepy they ARE creepy.