There is something about the purely evil entity known as the serial killer that fascinates us endlessly, even as it repels us. Do these individuals inhabit the same world the rest of us live in? What is it that drives one to relentlessly stalk and murder other human beings like a tiger hunting prey? And even tigers kill only to satisfy a physical hunger; what kind of hunger drives the likes of Ted Bundy? Power? Sadism? Something so hideous that a "normal" mind can't begin to fathom it? We wonder what it would be like to live inside the head of such a person, but at the same time we pull back: it probably wouldn't be very nice in there.
Hugh Aynesworth, an investigative reporter, and Stephen G. Michaud, a writer for Newsweek, have written an exhaustive, well documented account of Ted Bundy's rampage through four states that left at least thirty young women dead. They explore Bundy's life in detail from his problematic childhood to his college years, during which he developed his consummate skill as a con artist and pathological liar. He wasn't every teenage girl's dream, but he had his share of girlfriends; he came from a broken home but his mother clearly cared about him and tried to be a good parent. He didn't know his father, but neither did a million other boys who never went on to become serial murderers. So who or what made Bundy Bundy? Aynesworth and Michaud suggest that it doesn't matter, Bundy was Bundy, period, and as such, the blame and responsibility for his crimes rest with him alone.
We follow Bundy in this book from his first murder in Washington State, through subsequent homicides in Utah and Colorado, his sensational escape from custody by jumping out of a second floor window, and his flight to Florida, where in a single explosion of homicidal rage he bludgeoned two girls to death and severely battered three more after invading their sorority house, before his final murder of a 12 year old who disappeared from a junior high school. The last killing represented a chilling turn: was Bundy going after younger and younger prey? One wonders if he might not have abducted children from elementary schools before he was finally caught.
Like all psychopaths before him and those who will come after him, Bundy never had a shred of compassion or guilt in regard to any of his victims. When he related his crimes to Michaud and Aynesworth, he insisted on talking about himself in the third person, as if Bundy the killer was a separate entity unrelated to himself. Perhaps that's how he could live with himself during the four years his crime spree lasted: someone else was committing these murders, not him. However Bundy tried to rationalize, deny or explain away his actions, one gets through this excellent book emotionally drained, and feeling very grateful that he is no longer on this planet to remind us of the insanity he caused while he walked among us.