Book Review: The Stranger Beside Me

11.06.2018 (first published 08.01.1980) | Gallery Books
Rating: 5/5 stars


Ann Rule met Ted Bundy in 1971 at a Seattle crisis clinic where they formed a friendship that would span the rest of Bundy’s life. Rule had no idea that Bundy was hiding a dark secret when they first met. As the years went on and Bundy’s murderous path came to light, Rule began to see Bundy in a different way. This book is a firsthand account of not only Rule’s relationship with Bundy, but also a look into his childhood, the media circus of his trials, and the crimes that made him notorious.


It’s always hard for me to write a review of a true crime book. I think for me it’s the fact that this book isn’t a retelling or a work of fiction. Everything within these pages are true, so the story itself cannot be judged, but the way it’s written or laid out certainly can.

THE STRANGER BESIDE ME launched as a work that Ann Rule was contracted to write about a series of brutal murders, which at the time did not have an identified suspect. The reader can truly feel the passion that Rule put behind showing who these women were and the impact that their deaths had not only on their family, but the community as well. So often documentaries or stories about true crime events choose to focus predominantly on the killer and gloss over the victims. Rule takes the time to tell the victim’s stories and for me that makes the story she ultimately telling about Ted Bundy more impactful.


I feel like I know so much about Bundy from watching several documentaries that I was worried this book would simply be a retelling of what I already know. Wrong. The relationship between Rule and Bundy adds an entirely new aspect to the story. I knew that they had worked together, but I had no idea how far their friendship stretched over the years. I was absolutely fascinated by their interactions, such as the letter that Bundy would write from prison. Watching Rule’s viewpoint of Bundy change over the years was another intriguing element that this book had to offer. I can’t imagine finding out someone I know was suspected of murder and watching that change to them being imprisoned and charged for numerous murders.

I could talk about this book and Ted Bundy all day long, but I would hate to ruin the experience of reading THE STRANGER BESIDE ME for anyone. What I will say is that if you have any interest in Bundy or simply true crime in general, you need to pick this book up! The story is fascinating and shocking to the point where some parts feel like they could have been ripped from a fictional book. I absolutely loved Rule’s writing and I look forward to picking up more of her books in the future.

This book is available to buy from: Amazon | Book Depository

Disclosure: What Jess Reads is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This in no way influences my opinion of the above book.

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