• Bitter Almonds

  • The True Story of Mothers, Daughters, and the Seattle Cyanide Murders
  • By: Gregg Olsen
  • Narrated by: Kevin Pierce
  • Length: 20 hrs and 20 mins
  • 3.8 out of 5 stars (429 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Stella Nickell's small-time world was one of big-time dreams. In 1986, her biggest one came true when her husband died during a seizure, making her the beneficiary of a $175,000-plus insurance payoff - until authorities discovered that Bruce Nickell's headache capsules had been laced with cyanide. In an attempt to cover her tracks, Stella did the unconscionable.

She saw to it that a stranger would also become a 'random casualty' of cyanide-tainted painkillers. But Stella's cunning plan came undone when her daughter Cynthia notified federal agents. And troubling questions lingered like the secret of bitter almonds...

What would turn a gregarious barfly like Stella into a cold-hearted killer overnight? Why would Cynthia, a mirror image of her mother, turn on her own flesh and blood? Did Cynthia reveal everything she knew about the crimes? The stunning answers would unfold in a case that sparked a national uproar, dug deep into a troubled family history, and exposed an American mother for the pretty poison she was.

©2012 Gregg Olsen (P)2013 Gregg Olsen

What listeners say about Bitter Almonds

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great story kind of long on the details.

If you could sum up Bitter Almonds in three words, what would they be?

Is she guilty.

What did you like best about this story?

I like details and this book has a lot of details. You definitely don't feel deprived of information after listening to this book. Some reviews state that it was too long, I like all the added information it gives.

Have you listened to any of Kevin Pierce’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Kevin Pierce is my favorite narrator and his performances are always number one as far as I am concerned.

7 people found this helpful

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first class true crime

True crime readers will not be disappointed. Anyone wanting a quick overview of the Stella Nickell story may not be happy with all the detail which Olsen has meticulously tracked down and recounted, but if you want all the ins and outs of the plot and the characters, this book has it all. I wasn't counting, but this family must be in the race for the highest number of house moves and taking up temporary make-shift accommodation with friends or family, the most partner swaps, the most one night stands, the amount of alcohol consumed, and general bad parenting. On the other hand, they were either in work or looking for work, family (except mothers and daughters) were close-knit and stood by each other through thick and thin, and there was always a friend they could turn to in a crisis. Fascinating family, fascinating plot, intriguing outcome. Olsen's research is painstaking and he writes well, although the interweaving of the stories of the two victims' families was a bit confusing at first. Also I felt a bit of the story was missing in my version because it went straight from the jury room deliberations to after the verdict had been handed down which left me baffled about when the verdict had been reached and even more baffled about the phone call to a juror and possible re-trail which were being mentioned. I went back and listened to that section again to make sure it wasn't just me, but it still seemed that part of the book just wasn't there. It is very competently read by Kevin Pierce - a simple straight-forward emotion-free narration - just right for this type of book.

13 people found this helpful

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Another Gregg Olsen Gem

The gift that Gregg Olsen has of making real life sound like a well-done fiction novel is downright uncanny.

If you are a True Crime buff, you won't want to miss this.

Kevin Pierce is, as always, a top-notch narrator.

5 people found this helpful

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Great A+performance

These two are dynamite together Kevin pierce as the reader and the talented Gregg Olson great book/ riveting

5 people found this helpful

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Bitter Almonds

I loved it. I love Kevin Pierce. He's my favorite narrator..... 😊 The story is absolutely unbelievable, yet 100, percent true. It had to be a great amount of work and that's putting it mildly. Kevin Pierce, also was a wonderful narrater through out these twists and turns in this Audiobook.

3 people found this helpful

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Page turner

Any additional comments?

A generally well done true crime thriller. Not a lot of suspense but for those interested in police investigatory procedures it doesn't disappoint.

6 people found this helpful

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Too Many Almonds

Interesting story, characters and excellent narration.... but about 10 hours too long. A lot of hashing and re-hashing of the same story. This book could probably have been completely told in half the time.

5 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Interesting - but comes up a bit short

I found this book fascinating in the sense that a car wreck can be fascinating. We go through life not realizing there is a whole other culture out there. I was hoping for resolution and closure - but after doing a bit of research into the real case behind the book I now understand why none was possible.

5 people found this helpful

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Ignore The Negative Reviews Here...

Okay, if you want a true crime book dripping in blood and bodily fluids, this is not going to be for you--and you might find something deeper than that "boring." But if you are looking for a book that delves into a crime from all angles: forensics, psychology, methodology--then this is going to be more up your dark alley. Inspired by his mentor Jack Olsen (no relation), Gregg Olsen has written a deep and thoughtful analysis of a very interesting--and curiously complicated--set of murders. A reader truly interested in the forensics, psychology and police work involved in solving a crime will enjoy every minute of this fine book. Gore seekers stay at home.

15 people found this helpful

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This was like have dental work..slow and painful

The real story is interesting but they drag this out forever and it is boring.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-22-20

A waste of hours

This book, unlike many by the author needed so much editing that at two thirds of the way through I abandoned it. The amount and irrelevance of some of the details are ludicrous

2 people found this helpful

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  • Flink
  • 11-08-18

Long-winded

I love a long audiobook. The longer the better, generally. But when the author got to the court scenes the cracks in the narrative really began to show. It's as if he was determined to repeat word for word, almost in real time, all testimony and questions. It was full of repetition. I couldn't keep all the names straight and ended up just keeping it on as background noise for much of the final part. With a much tighter edit this could have lost at least twenty chapter and been better off for it. Not a bad book. But hard to recommend due to the sheer boredom inducing final chapters

2 people found this helpful

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  • Hazel
  • 01-20-18

Good but too much 'personal opinion'

Long winded and kinda ran off in irrelevant tangents at times but good over all apart from the authors obsession of informing us how 'pretty' characters were....how 'enviably slender' her waist was and beautiful her blonde hair was....STOP IT !!....you just sound creepy! Just give us the facts and WE will decide if we find this attractive or not.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Geoff
  • 01-29-16

Punchy! Gripping! Intense!

A Page Turner from The Start! Not Holding Back, or Pulling It's Punches as it explains The Internal Strength and Loyalty, often, found within Families routed along The Lower Levels of Society, even, to A Fault on Many Occasions. Darkness is Never Far from The Surface Here as Characters and Plot Play Out from Gripping Chapter to Gripping Chapter! Olson is Indeed A Master of True Crime!! I Recommend This Book to All who are Fascinated by The Human Condition for Power, Influence, and Ego.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Stephen Sharp
  • 09-27-14

A drawn out story with a lot of pointles detail.

What did you like most about Bitter Almonds?

This book is simply about a woman killing people using cyanide, so was not the book I thought it was.A very long drawn out story with a lot of pointless detail.It could have been summed up in less than a third of the 20 hours with writer took.

1 person found this helpful