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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.

Critic Reviews

"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
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

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

70 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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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!

199 people found this helpful

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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.

127 people found this helpful

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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.

93 people found this helpful

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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'.

26 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

52 people found this helpful

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✫✫ 4 Stars ✫✫

Well besides the horror of the story, I have to say I am left with 1000 unanswered questions. I was surprised about how the people involved in this weren't all exactly presented in the way I think they probably should have been. This book mainly shows the depravity and wickedness of the mom but she wasn't completely alone, I feel like any adult knows right from wrong and should be held responsible for their own actions too. Not that they weren't held responsible in the end but the way this author presents it made it seem like everyone was a victim of this one women. This story was absolutely insane and addicting in a way that you can't stop cause you have to know that these awful people don't get away with it.

The narration on the audiobook was great.

11 people found this helpful

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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.

34 people found this helpful

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Wow!

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

22 people found this helpful

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FANTASTIC reader! Riveting true story!

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

44 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • A.J.F
  • 05-23-20

Extremely disturbing/upsetting

In a way I wish I'd never listened to this- I should have read the other reviews more carefully! What goes on in this book is so darkly disturbing and far beyond what any "normal" person would imagine a Mother is capable of doing. There is extreme torture here- mental and physical- and after listening to the whole thing I feel tortured aswell, I know I'll be haunted by this for a while. The book deserves a good rating as it's so well written and the narrator does a brilliant job- all the voices come off as genuine. But I can't really say I'd reccommend this- how can you reccommend real life hell to anyone?!

59 people found this helpful

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  • Team Joe Dawn
  • 01-20-20

Brutal to hear

Narrated beautifully karma and very difficult to hear nearly 40 chapters of horrible child abuse. Worth it, well written but very difficult to absorb the level of pain.

20 people found this helpful

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  • Mark Nelson
  • 01-23-20

A Tale of Truth

This is a good book & a story that shocked me. I did have to take my time listening as it is a dark story of truth and heavy at times. You just never know what goes on behind closed doors

13 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • ian mcnamara
  • 12-09-19

Difficult to read but fantastic and inspiring.

This was a very hard book to read, I enjoyed it but the abuce that was afflicted on the three sisters and the others in the father and mothers web was horrible. While the mother was the main culprit in my opinion the father was just as bad for not standing up to her knowing it was wrong. I won't say any more on this book as a lot of it was very distressing to read.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-19-21

Robot voice

Looking forward to listening but it’s a ROBOT talking ... disappointing as really good story tho

9 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-28-20

Could barely finish it

Long-winded, repetitive and boring. What took 9 hours to listen to could have been reduced by half. It's a shame, I've listen to other Gregg Olsen audiobooks and have found them enthralling - this one, not so much.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Terence Boyce
  • 02-24-20

Sjhocking

First class narration of a true horror story which tells us how evil life can be.

8 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • ania
  • 01-31-20

Not very good investigative job

The author writes in a very much 80s like style. Shelly's different husbands abundoned their kids because they did not have much choice having such a violent wife. Its all a woman's responsibility to look after her kids after all. Also, he writes as if Shelly was born pure evil, not as a result of a little girl being horribly abused by her own mother. Mr. Olsen, this was a very poor investigative job.

7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-07-20

Tough subject

i enjoyed this book, i liked the narration and would seeknout other books narrated by her. My first Grehg Olsen book, would listen another.

7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer petamd
  • 12-06-19

loved it

great book always like this writer and with this new story he does not disappoint

4 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-15-20

Must Read

absolutely loved this book it was both amazing and heartbreaking. I listened to it in one day.

7 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-17-20

depressing, unnerving, foul

PROs: a well presented account of a complex and longitudinal tragedy. the narrator was extremely skilled at distinguishing between the characters.

CONs: quite hard to listen to, almost stopped listening on several occasions just because of how uncomfortable the story made me feel.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-14-20

Absolutely captivating

This was a captivating book. Extremely well narrated. I felt the people in the story come to life with Karen Peake's vocal expression and characterization. At times difficult to ingest because of the actions of the three girls' monstrous mother, this is a story that needs to be told.

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anne Green
  • 02-23-20

Unbelievable

It is hard to believe this is a true story. What those girls went through! Great read, great reader and a story well told.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jeff
  • 01-19-20

a good read.

well written and presented and presumably well researched. frightening to find that a person could have such control over other people.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-05-20

such a sad but gripping story!

I couldn't stop listening, it was a very well told story and I would recommend

2 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • joeyjodes
  • 08-19-20

Painfully repetitive

I’m not quite half way through this book and need to turn it off. It is so incredibly repetitive.

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-13-20

Frustrating made me angry to read

This story was hard to listen to not only because of the terrible things that happened, but because the story went around in circles in some places and repeated itself over and over. I found it very frustrating to listen to and felt angry that this actually happened, I have no understanding how this can happen and it seems it was very easy for all members of the family to pass the buck. That is not good enough in my world regardless of the way you have been brought up, all humans know its not ok to do these things to another human, Shame on them all!

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Declan Sexton
  • 04-25-20

Heart warming and cheery

This book will brighten up your day, and reaffirm your belief in the strength of the human spirit!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Wayne Daly
  • 03-05-20

Powerful, real, so charged

Not for the feint hearted. Thank goodness for the strength of the sisterhood. Really enjoyed.

1 person found this helpful