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
A generally well done true crime thriller. Not a lot of suspense but for those interested in police investigatory procedures it doesn't disappoint.
Avid reader of history, biography, and 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.
It was generally good
The book was good overall but it dragged the last few hours.
College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.
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.
Why not use multiple narrators and use women & men?
Boredom, reinforced dislike of trailer parks.
AUDIBLE MAKES READING POSSIBLE AND EASY FOR ME...I AM VISUALLY IMPAIRED. I WISH THEY HAD ALL THE BOOKS I WANT I WOULD SNAP THEM UP!
I DON'T KNOW. I HAVE READ SEVERAL. THEY WERE OK BUT THIS ONE WAS REALLY POORLY WRITTEN. I HAVE ALREADY BOUGHT ONE MORE BY HIM AND AM NOT SURE I WANT TO READ IT BUT I WILL TRY IT.
AS I SAID ABOVE IT WAS VERY REPETATIVE. JUST TELL THE STORY IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER AND STOP REPEATING WHAT I ALREADY HEARD. IT COULD HAVE BEEN AT LEAST ONE THIRD SHORTER.
I REALLY CAN'T SAY. IT WAS SO CHOPPY THAT I COULD NOT FOCUS ON ONE SCENE.
WHEN SOMETHING IS TOLD FOUR AND FIVE TIEMS IT SHOULD BE EDITED OUT THREE OR FOUR TIMES.
THIS WAS A GOOD CASE. I REMEMBER IT AND SAW A SHOW (SNAPPED) ON IT. IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN A GREAT BOOK. BUT IT WAS NOT.
Probably not. I do like true crime stories but I have now read two by this author and both books were very long and drawn out. Almost too much detail so they became boring.
Yes, a TV series but only if it is made more interesting
This would be a good book if most of the complicated details were left out and got right to the point. Very disappointed since I've liked other Olson books. If you get this, skip through most of it and find out what happens.
Why ever would I do that?
I remember this incident, so it was nice to learn more of the background story.
The interaction between mother and daughter.
The book could have been cut down quite a bit. So much detail re minor characters, I became frustrated. Didn't finish the book b/c it dragged on and on, but had heard enough and was satisfied when I stopped.
"A drawn out story with a lot of pointles detail."
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.
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