From the publisher: The first book by a confirmed survivor of Ted Bundy, and the only memoir to challenge the popular narrative of Bundy as a handsome killer who charmed his victims into trusting him.
I haven’t read that much true crime. I’ve read a lot about John Wayne Gacy because I was in high school in the Chicago area when his horrors were discovered, but I didn’t know much about Ted Bundy going into this memoir. I held the popular beliefs that he was charming and intelligent in addition to being a serial killer. Kathy Kleiner Rubin was one of the young women he attacked when she was sleeping in her sorority bedroom, and she has a lot to say about how Bundy is viewed in popular culture.
The author makes the case that what we believe about Bundy is wrong. He was not charming; most women he approached found him creepy. Most of his victims were not lured into his car by a sad tale that he spun but were attacked in their beds or from behind by Bundy. He was not intelligent or learned; he was a poor student who had no aptitude for the law or anything except killing.
I had no idea how many suspected victims Bundy had. I knew he was brutal but didn’t know his preferred technique was to bash his victims in the head first, before violating them. The author is only a few years older than me, and I found her passionate defense of Bundy’s victims very moving. The memoir very much gave me “there but for the grace of god go I” vibes.
Kathy Kleiner Rubin is very resilient and a true survivor. She has one son, Michael, and he didn’t find out until he was 37 years old that the attack she suffered in college was at the hands of the notorious Ted Bundy. When he found out, he called her in shock. Toward the end of her book, she writes, “Michael was a big part of my happiness in life. During that phone call, as he kept repeating ‘you were so normal’ he brought up the pool parties I hosted for his birthday and other things I did to make his life as ordinary as possible. To me, this was one of my great accomplishments in life. Bundy was on a sick and twisted journey and he dragged his victims down the path. After I survived the attack, I dug in my heels so that he could pull me no further.”
There is some information about the author and her husband surviving Katrina which felt like filler, but aside from that the narrative flowed. The author has a lot of encouraging words for others who are fighting battles. Her words and memories are very inspirational. Appendix A is a list of the women and girls who lost their lives to Bundy, which is very reverential and which I read with great care. As the author points out, none of them are to blame for being murdered by a monster. Appendix C has a helpful list of ways to replace his narrative with remembrances of his victims.
If you like memoirs of people who have overcome great obstacles, or if you’d like to know more about Ted Bundy’s victims, I recommend A Light in the Dark.
I read an advance reader copy of A Light in the Dark. It is scheduled to be published on October 3, and the Galesburg Public Library will own it.