If You Tell by Gregg Olsen

Rating:           9

General Rating: Wow, wow, wow, this is the most enlightening non-fiction I’ve read. Reading this book was difficult but I highly recommend it.  

Who should read:  Everyone. At the risk of showing my hurried, unorganized behavior, I’ll admit I did not know this was based on a true story until I had finished it. I downloaded this novel months prior to reading it and never looked at its cover or metadata. I thought it too far-fetched, then had a jaw-dropping moment while reading the acknowledgments.

Skip factor:  5%. I wouldn’t have skipped a word had I known this was based on a true story.

Summary: This is the story of three sisters, Nikki, Sami, and Tori Knotek, and the abuse they endured at the hands of their parents Dave and Shelly Knotek. Shelly Knotek, the mastermind, will be released from prison in 2022. Her husband, Dave, was released in 2017.

Spoiler: Simply put: They abused their three daughters and murdered their nephew and two friends.


I can’t begin to put in words how I feel about the three daughters, Nikki, Sami, and Tori. They are remarkable women, each in their own way. I didn’t have a favorite. I loved all three.

I loathed Shelly Knotech as any mother who reads this story will. As a mother myself, I am protective of my children. Yes, like all mothers, I’ve made many mistakes raising my kids, but the kind of mistakes Shelly made are incomprehensible. She wallowed in torturous acts. (How someone could inflict pain and agony of this nature on another human being, let alone their own child, is incomprehensible.)

Storyline: Barely believable but true. Readers will walk away with a better understanding of how abusive people select their victims.

Writing:  Exceptionally written. Keeps your attention throughout.

Read this author again?  Yes, I will read this author’s work again, but I don’t think he will ever find a more astonishing story.   

Read on!


CJ Zahner is the author of The Suicide Gene, a psychological thriller, Dream Wide Awake and Project Dream, two crime thrillers with sixth-sense components, Friends Who Move Couches and Don’t Mind Me, I Came with the House, women’s fiction. Zahner’s Dream Series novels were inspired by Zahner’s own experiences. Listen to her interview about her 9/11 a premonition here. Download her Beyond Reality Radio podcast here. Listen to her Online Book Circle podcast here. Or read more about Zahner in Voyage Raleigh.
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