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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
4.5 out of 5 stars (150 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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

"A true-crime tour de force." (Steve Jackson, New York Times best-selling author of No Stone Unturned)

"Even the most devoted true-crime reader will be shocked by the maddening and mind-boggling acts of horror that Gregg Olsen chronicles in this book. Olsen has done it again, giving readers a glimpse into a murderous duo that’s so chilling, it will have your head spinning. I could not put this book down!" (Aphrodite Jones, New York Times best-selling author)

"A suspenseful, horrific, and yet fascinating character study of an incredibly dysfunctional and dangerous family by Gregg Olsen, one of today’s true-crime masters." (Caitlin Rother, New York Times best-selling author)

What members say
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

You'll be hooked!!

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

3 people found this helpful

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    4 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.

3 people found this helpful

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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.


3 people found this helpful

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loved it

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

2 people found this helpful

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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

1 person found this helpful

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Interesting Story,

I didnt love this book, however I couldn't stop listening as I really wanted to know how it ended.

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Horrifyingly addictive - not for the faint of heart

This story was absolutely horrendous and the stuff that Shelly got away with blows my mind. Highly recommend if you like detailed family crime stories with many twists and turns. Warning: not for the faint of heart.

I also want to add that the narrator was amazing and did a great job. One of the better narrators in my opinion so I’m not sure if I agree with some of those reviews saying the narrator was hard to listen to. I think she did a great job at keeping me engaged! Overall an amazing listen.

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Sadistic Mother and those who follow.

A great story that show the weaknesses that can inhibit a mind when confronted with someone who is "louder" than you. I'm always amazed at stories were people follow and do things that are harmful to themselves but do it anyway. How the brain gets beaten down into submission. This story is one of those takes and although at times I found the story tellers voice annoying (hence 4 stars) I could not stop listening.

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If you liked « Evil Genius » on Netflix you should read this book

Both women are cruel geniuses, thinking of the most inhuman way to treat people.
This story is not just about a crime but also about the power of a sisterhood.

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this book was mind blowing

my book that I read I'm still thinking about it and it's been about two months since I read it and it's still in my head and it's a true story I think pretty sure but it's awesome anyone out there you got to read it it's just mind-blowing best book I've ever read out of any books I've ever read you got to read it out there everybody has to read it

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  • A. Clark
  • 2019-12-20

Horribly Depressing, Detailed Description of Abuse

It reads like a police report thoroughly detailing EVERY single way those 3 girls were abused. I don't understand why it needed to be 10hrs. I managed to get through 3hrs worth until I skipped to the last 20 chapters and I didn't even miss any details. It felt like I hadn't skipped anything! While it is traumatic what they went through and I admire their strength, it seriously could've been cut down in half of the chapters to better tell their story. I also agree with others saying it was confusing - it progressed normal, then jumped back 20 yrs at the end, then back to present.

DO NOT BUY. Totally not worth it!

122 people found this helpful

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  • Jeffrey Young
  • 2019-12-17

I skipped through most of this book.

I've read a lot of true crime books but none have made me feel as bad. I don't know if it was the subject matter or the writing but I just could not take the intermindable details of the abuse after awhile. Since Ron's treatment seemed very similar to Kathy's I just skipped it. I wish there had been a little insight into the psychology of the Shelly and maybe her husband children's reaction to her. I don't want to give away the story so to speak but I couldn't find much sympathy for them even though I know they were like prisoners of war. So I don't recommend this book or story. I'm really sorry I read it.

71 people found this helpful

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  • Muggle Mom
  • 2020-01-02

Why didn't you tell?

I have lots of questions. This story is so cracked that I have a really hard time believing so many aspects of it. I guess I have problems with what IS NOT DISCUSSED and therefore find the story lacking. However, it’s a true crime book so I know I can never get all the answers, but I can definitely see the slant in this book as far away as Florida.

My main problem is the adults, especially Kathy & Ron?? I guess I can understand the 3 sisters (and before he was killed, Shane), they were kids. But when they became teens/adults?? How are they functional to this day? I can guess why it was left out…this is a crime story, not a memoir.

This is a bit at the end of the book from a forensic psychologist and it’s telling when she states
…skilled predators know how to stay in control
…the offender has stained the victim’s souls
…the victims might even still love the sadistic predatory caretaker
…this is difficult for outsiders to understand
…and no matter what form it has taken, home is still home
…victims of the abuse can still love the monster and
…this ambulant loyalty just might be the predator's ultimate form of damage”

Tho the crimes were committed in the late 1990-early 2000s, the book makes the justice system look like idiots, and the entire family to include the grandparents are super dysfunctional. The sister’s “supposed” dialogue is very out of sync with the book…hindsight and a prison sentence gives the ability to write such a tale.

I believe the manipulation, victim trauma and missed opportunities

31 people found this helpful

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  • notvafter11
  • 2019-12-30

Not really in depth

I have only listened to about 4 hours of this and I was trying to single out the reason I didn't like it. Something about it felt very juvenile. Is it the language, I thought? No. Was it the unbelievable acts that seemed almost fake? Also no. The book is just a list of acts this woman did. Terrible punishments and emotional abuse. Just lists and lists and lists about the terrible things this woman did. I suppose what I'm interested in is the WHY people commit the things they do, not the actual things they do.

62 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2019-12-04

An absolutely chilling true story

Gregg Olsen and Karen Peaks did an amazing job giving the sisters a voice. I cried a lot listening to this, and I am not a crier. I couldn't put this book down.

Shelly and Dave should have gotten life with no chance of parole.

27 people found this helpful

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  • Judy Lotas
  • 2020-01-04

Ugh.

Supposed to be true but this overblown story is totally unbelievable. At first I thought 'oh how horrible!' Then I thought 'oh what trash'.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Rodell
  • 2019-12-08

FANTASTIC reader! Riveting true story!

This reader was simply amazing! This story should come with a hefty trigger warning for survivors of childhood trauma.

31 people found this helpful

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  • Michele
  • 2019-12-08

Wow!

Wow! I didn’t realize this was a true story when I bought it. Shocking how wicked some people are.

15 people found this helpful

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  • K. Cox
  • 2019-12-05

Tragic

The abuse is sickening this was one of the hardest books to listen to because your heart breaks for the children and their horrific life.

23 people found this helpful

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  • Karen Sam
  • 2019-12-03

Monster

As an inhabitant of the Northwest-the fact that this monster will be released in 2 yrs disturbs me greatly. Congratulations to the courageous sisters for surviving intact.

36 people found this helpful