If You Tell: A True Story of Murder

#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.

My Review

I briefly remember reading bits and pieces about this story when it was in the media. Yet, I did not know all of the details. My heart just broke for Nikki, Sami, and Tori as I read about their childhood growing up under their mother's reign.

Shelley was an evil woman. She was mental, physically, and verbally abusive to all who were around her; not just her daughters but husband, nephew, and the others that she took in promising their a good life only to turn on them and treat them worse than an dog.

As you read about all of the horrible abuse that the three sisters endured, you wonder why they stayed. As Dr. Katherine Ramsland talks about; children who grow up with cold, narcissistic or sadistic parents don't know any differently event when they see other families, at that time it is too late and the children just hunker down and adapt.

I have read several true crime novels that Mr. Olsen has penned collaboratory. This is the first he has written solo. This like the other books are no different; Mr. Olsen is a strong writer. While, it is a bit strange to say how much I really like reading this book about a true crime it is true. Whenever I get the chance to read a book by Mr. Olsen I jump at it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Gregg Olsen is a #1 New York Times and Amazon Charts bestselling author who has written more than thirty books, including Lying Next to Me, The Last Thing She Ever Did, and two novels in the Nicole Foster series, The Sound of Rain and The Weight of Silence. He’s appeared on multiple television and radio shows and news networks, such as Good Morning America, Dateline, Entertainment Tonight, CNN, and MSNBC. In addition, Olsen has been featured in Redbook, People, and Salon magazine, as well as in the Seattle Times, Los Angeles Times, and New York Post. Washington State officially selected his young adult novel Envy for the National Book Festival, and The Deep Dark was named Idaho Book of the Year. A Seattle native who lives with his wife in rural Washington State.

Q&A with Gregg Olsen author of IF YOU TELL December 1, 2019

Had you known about this story before the Knotek sisters contacted you? Why did they reach out to you rather than a different author or write the book themselves?

I had only a very vague recollection of the Knotek case. When I first met Sami (the middle daughter) in Raymond, she told me she was terrified because she was certain that when her mother is released from prison, she’ll murder again. At least one of the sisters had thought of writing their story, but putting words to a page was too painful. 

What kind of research did you have to do for the book? Did you go to any of the houses that the Knotek family lived in?  

I interviewed each of the sisters several times, as well as traded emails and phone calls with them. The story was theirs to tell. I also had access to hundreds of pages of depositions and interviews from Pacific County in preparation for a trial that never took place. Sami took me to the houses in Raymond—which was very difficult for her—to show me where everything happened. It was the first time she’d been back there. As I worked through the information, I realized that the entire story—or as much as possible—should be from the point of view of the 3 sisters.

How did you balance telling so many of the horrible truths of what happened while also being sensitive to the sister’s trust and bond?

I decided to leave out a few details that weren’t necessary to the telling of the story because revisiting those details in particular would only have caused more harm where enough had already occurred. I really came to love and respect these girls. I hold each one in the highest regard. They’ve been through a war together and telling their story is the highest honor I could have as an author. 

What was it like interviewing the Knotek sisters all these years after the crimes? How are they dealing with this in their own lives now?

Here’s the thing, to interview them or even just to spend time with them, you’d never know how their journey started. They are honest, funny, sad, angry, happy… they are completely wonderful women. What Shelly did to them didn’t break them. And I hope she knows that, because her cruelty and games were her greatest joy. She made them suffer, but she’s didn’t stop them from living lives of their own. Good lives. 


I got this as one of my free Amazon books, and read it last month. It was shocking!

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