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  • If You Tell

  • A True Story of Murder, Family Secrets, and the Unbreakable Bond of Sisterhood
  • Written by: Gregg Olsen
  • Narrated by: Karen Peakes
  • Length: 10 hrs and 34 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (3,070 ratings)

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If You Tell cover art

If You Tell

Written by: Gregg Olsen
Narrated by: Karen Peakes
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Publisher's Summary

2021 Audie Award Nominee for Best Nonfiction Audiobook

A #1 Wall Street Journal, Amazon Charts, USA Today, and Washington Post bestseller.

#1 New York Times bestselling author Gregg Olsen’s shocking and empowering true-crime story of three sisters determined to survive their mother’s house of horrors.

After more than a decade, when sisters Nikki, Sami, and Tori Knotek hear the word mom, it claws like an eagle’s talons, triggering memories that have been their secret since childhood. Until now. 

For years, behind the closed doors of their farmhouse in Raymond, Washington, their sadistic mother, Shelly, subjected her girls to unimaginable abuse, degradation, torture, and psychic terrors. Through it all, Nikki, Sami, and Tori developed a defiant bond that made them far less vulnerable than Shelly imagined. Even as others were drawn into their mother’s dark and perverse web, the sisters found the strength and courage to escape an escalating nightmare that culminated in multiple murders. 

Harrowing and heartrending, If You Tell is a survivor’s story of absolute evil - and the freedom and justice that Nikki, Sami, and Tori risked their lives to fight for. Sisters forever, victims no more, they found a light in the darkness that made them the resilient women they are today - loving, loved, and moving on.

©2019 Gregg Olsen. (P)2019 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

What the critics say

"Peakes's performance sucks the listener into the scenes of abuse, torture, sadism, and, eventually, murder committed by Shelly.... Peakes's narration is compelling." --AudioFile Magazine

"This riveting account will leave readers questioning every odd relative they’ve known." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Olsen presents the story chronologically and in a simple, straightforward style, which works well: it is chilling enough as is." --Booklist

What listeners say about If You Tell

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Good Narration, Terribly Depressing Story Arc

I love true crime, and good, crafted storytelling... but this is just awful. I know a lot of work and research went into writing this, but even non-fiction requires a good storytelling arc. There needs to be push and pull, positives to balance out the negatives—the way even good novels based on experiences during the Holocaust, for example, can highlight the beauty of human character and the joys of invented games and hopes by children, in contrast to horrors. This is just HORROR HORROR HORROR, until your brain will have you unconsciously pressing “STOP” to escape the barrage of human psychopathy with absolutely NOTHING bright or shining to make listening to this worthwhile. I’m so disappointed, and I’m relieved I didn’t pay for this. I would request a refund, even just to reaffirm the existence of humanity that this audiobook refuses to acknowledge.

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52 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Do not read unless you want to feel terrible for days

This was one of those books that I wish I would have put down when My gut said “put this book down “ I ploughed on hoping for good writing hoping for good something ........it was nothing but an pouring of sadistic experiences. it didn’t clear up until the very end of the book, literally it was depressing the whole time. I would say the storyteller was good and created different characters but that’s all this book had going for it. Some stories just should not be told .

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27 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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You'll be hooked!!

Monster do exists! once you start listening, you can't put it down.
I was hooked!

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14 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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read an article...

I could I'd skipped 60 chapters. I would of liked more details about the trail and psychoanalysis of Shelley/Dave dynamic vs repetition ad nauseam of the same torture methods over and over.

Sad story. The way it was told made it hard to sympathize with any of the victims as their chances for escape or calling for help were so abundant. had they're been expansion of the conditions mixed in, it would if made it easier to digest.

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14 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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great read

This book was hard to put down, I listened while walking the dog. He got alot of long walks. What those girls survived was unbelievable. Im glad they survived

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11 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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Incredible story - narrator made it hard to listen to.

Love the book, it’s crazy, and unbelievable. The narrators voice almost ruined it for me. Her voice was extremely monotone through out, and the voices she created were all together hard to listen to.

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8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Great listen

Sad and somewhat graphic (violent) but a very intriguing story. I finished this book really quickly because it was so good

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6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • JOY
  • 2019-12-14

Couldn’t put it down. Read it right through to the end

Scary stuff!
It’s hard to believe these atrocities actually happen.
Extremely well written.
Thank you.


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5 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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atrocious writing of what amounts to torture porn

The only aspect of this book that deserves a decent rating is the narrator, who does a good job of performing with redundant, repetitive, empty writing. Olsen repeats the same statements over and over, dragging out torture scenarios to no understandable purpose.There are zero attempts to add meaningful perspectives to the psychological aspects of the abuser/abuse these poor sisters suffered. No real commentary or delving into the multiple people and systems who were aware enough and failed these people. A seven minute afterword from an actual psychologist seems like a tossed in afterthought and I'm left feeling like I helped to exploit these survivors of abuse just by listening til the end. There are many true crime authors who attempt to tell a story in a dignified and non salacious manner but this is not one of them.

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4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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loved it

I highly recommend this book. I am a true crime nerd and loved the book

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4 people found this helpful