Monthly Mini Review
The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule, narrated by Lorelei King – B I picked this audiobook up via my library. Lorelei King is a favourite narrator (she does the Mercy Thompson series) but I admit it threw me a little when Ted Bundy sounded like Adam Hauptmann!
I admit I knew little about Ted Bundy before this. (Hello. Australian.) I knew of him of course and that he was a serial killer but beyond that, not much else. Wow. What an animal he was. Cruel, vicious and manipulative. Ugh.
There’s an extra layer to this book though. Ann Rule was his friend. They met when they worked together at a crisis helpline. As I was listening there was a kind of meta layer to it and I spent a bit of time thinking about her relationship with Bundy and trying to put myself in her place. I think I would not have stuck by him or sent him money for cigarettes and postage stamps in jail. I think I would have washed my hands of him. That she did not was… a choice.
There are a number of afterwords which update events beyond the original ending of the book and take the story to Bundy’s execution in 1989. That last one seemed to shift in tone to more condemnation of Bundy than the original book did. I wondered about why that was.
Rule does focus on the women Bundy hurt and killed and renders them sympathetically and does not excuse in any way what was done to them. But there is something of a disconnect at times when she references Bundy; as if he were not the person responsible. There was more than a bit of compartmentalising that I found jarring and even a bit shocking. Yes, I judged her.
There’s another layer too. She made money off Bundy’s crimes. Yes, she had contracted for the book before he was even a suspect and she never hid from him or anyone that she was going to write it but there are interesting questions about the ethics and incestuousness of the relationship, even while her insights were unique because of her access.
I don’t have to solve any of those issues of course but I did note them as I listened.
The more interesting sections of the book to me were really about how he was caught and his victims, the forensics at the time, the court cases and judgements, rather than Bundy himself. He held little fascination for me and did not attract my sympathy in the least, notwithstanding Rule’s efforts otherwise. I’m not a supporter of the death penalty but it doesn’t make me sad that Bundy has been removed from the gene pool.
Coming Soon on Audio
Reviews of these books will be up soon at AudioGals.
Here’s what you may have missed:
Better at Weddings Than You by Mina V. Esguerra, narrated by Rachel Coates & Gio Gahol
The Queer Principles of Kit Webb by Cat Sebastian, narrated by Joel Leslie
Footsteps of the Past by Felice Stevens, narrated by Denis Lambert
Survival Instinct by Fiona Quinn, narrated by James Cavenaugh – joint review with Caz
Dangerous Ground by Rachel Grant, narrated by Eva Kaminsky, A. T. Chandler & Michelle Yatchmeneff