Greg Carmichael's Reviews > The Only Living Witness: The True Story of Serial Sex Killer Ted Bundy

The Only Living Witness by Stephen G. Michaud
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Sep 22, 07

Read in September, 2007

Like a lot of people, when it comes to serial killers, I find Ted Bundy to be most fascinating. When I consider Jeffery Dahmer or John Wayne Gacy, it doesn’t seem to be too far of a stretch to believe that they could commit such horrific crimes. After all, they look like murderers, right? But with Bundy, the image the public got was just the opposite. Intelligent, eloquent, witty and handsome, he seemed like anything but a predator.

The most interesting thing about this book was that it revealed Bundy to be much more of an “ordinary” serial killer than he appeared to be. We got the charming image for two reasons—first, Bundy, unlike most of us, performed best in custody and under pressure. He loved the camera, the attention and verbally sparring with authority. Second, the media chose to perpetuate this image alone because it made for a great story despite the fact that it was only part of the picture. Hence, Bundy became a celebrity with the ironic twist that many of his adoring young fans were the very type upon whom he would have preyed. Yet as a free man, the real Bundy emerged. In the midst of his killing sprees he revealed a side that was depressed, confused, and angry. Witnesses who narrowly averted his grasp describe him as anything but charming and intelligent—instead he came across as creepy and obsessive.

I admit that with a subject like this, I tend to be satisfied with the A&E Biography version of the tale. I don’t need to know every detail about every victim and trial—just give me some insight into the man and I’m content. At over 300 pages, the subject got a little tedious for me after a while, but that is probably a matter of my taste over any fault of the book. For those who are interested, the writing is excellent. The style doesn’t suffer the usual reporter-turned-author shortcomings and while it is adequately descriptive it is not gratuitously graphic. Another thing that kept me interested more than most books like this was varied format—Michaud and Aynesworth rely on research, court testimony and interviews with Bundy himself to draw a complete picture of a man who was just as flawed as any other psychopath.
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