Books read in 2014 – 14. The Stranger Beside Me: Ted Bundy, The Shocking Inside Story – Ann Rule

 

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Genre: True Crime, Serial Killers
narrative style: first person, largely chronological Rating:3/5

format: Kindle

Published: 1980

Synopsis: Rule describes Bundy’s murders and also her reaction to them. She decribes their friendship and the difficulties she faced in accepting his guilt.

Challenges: Eclectic Reader Challenge 2014 – genre True Crime.

I first came across Ted Bundy when I was writing my MPhil. I was writing a section comparing Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho with Helen Zahavi’s Dirty Weekend and my research led me to read a lot about serial killers. Bundy stood out as one of the stranger cases. There was such a disparity between the persona he used to snare his victims (he liked to pretend to be helpless in some way, sometimes having his arm in a sling or using crutches) and the violence and depravity of his attacks. It stuck with me over the years and when I realised that I had to read a true crime book for this years challenge, I knew it would be about Bundy.ann rule

It is this disparity that is at the heart of Rule’s book. She knew Bundy, worked with him in fact, and was already writing a book about the series of violent murders when he became the prime suspect. She knew a charming and polite Ted, a man who worked the phones at a crisis centre, persuading people not to take their own lives. It is little wonder that she did not want to believe that he was the killer the police had searched for. Indeed, it didn’t seem possible that two such different personas could exist in the one person.

It surprised me how long Rule continued to be supportive of Bundy, even when she started to believe in his guilt. Perhaps it is easy to say when you are not emotionally attached to the person involved but I’m not sure I could have kept corresponding with him, sending him cheques and money as well. It maybe that she realised that this would help with her writing career – having the inside line on an infamous killer – and indeed this book did put her on the map. However, I think that the hold that Bundy had on her was a lot simpler. He knew exactly how to manipulate people and bend them to his will. Rule seems taken in by his need for her and at times seems almost awestruck. She claims not to have been in love with him and this may be true but there is something in the way that she writes about him that goes beyond mere friendship.

The details of Bundy’s crimes are horrendous and I had no idea how many women he had killed and how many murders he has been linked to that cannot be proved. Also his escapes from prison and many last minute reprieves from the electric chair made for interesting reading. However, I did get bogged down in what I felt was extraneous detail. Rule, undoubtedly, is very observant and thorough but there was no need to detail the weather or the background of every bit player. Also, I felt that the expression was clumsy at times and felt that who ever edited this work should have had a sharper red pencil. It was a shame because by the time I got to the end and Ted was finally going to be executed, I didn’t really care. I just wanted the book to be over.

 

 

Eclectic Reader Challenge 2013 – Action Adventure – The Zombie Room – R D Donald

51zwoI7vcmL._AA160_This is a genre I am not really familiar with, I must admit and I didn’t really know what to pick when I decided to do The Eclectic Reader Challenge. The Zombie Room sounded interesting – it was about human trafficking and I expected it to be a traumatic read. I expected it to be difficult. That would have made it more interesting.

There was certainly a lot of action. The events never really stopped happening. However, somehow this didn’t make it into a page turner. There was no tension and I didn’t feel compelled to read this at all. In fact, if I hadn’t been reading it as part of this challenge. I doubt I would have made it to the end.

There are traumatic events in this book. But they are described in such a flat way that I did not feel effected by them at all. That was the main problem. I felt no connection to the characters, to the events. In short, I did not care. And it seemed that most of the characters did not care either. Nothing seemed to really effect them either.

Ultimately, I think this was the problem for me. I write psychological stories and I like to read them as well. This story was the very antithesis of a psychological story. There was no knowing the inside of the character’s heads. They didn’t seem to have emotions or even points of view.

It may be that this is typical of the genre. After all, action adventure does suggest events rather than anything else. If so, I’m not sure that I will want to read any further into it.