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Publisher's Summary

Best-selling author Gregg Olsen and co-author Rebecca Morris investigate one of the 21st Century's most puzzling disappearances and how it resulted in the murder of two children by their father.

Every once in a great while a genuine murder mystery unfolds before the eyes of the American public. The tragic story of Susan Powell and her murdered boys, Charlie and Braden, is the only case that rivals the Jon Benet Ramsey saga in the annals of true crime. When the pretty, blonde Utah mother went missing in December of 2009 the media was swept up in the story - with lenses and microphones trained on Susan's husband, Josh. He said he had no idea what happened to his young wife, and that he and the boys had been camping in the middle of a snowstorm.

Over the next three years bombshell by bombshell, the story would reveal more shocking secrets. Josh's father, Steve, who was sexually obsessed with Susan, would ultimately be convicted of unspeakable perversion. Josh's brother, Michael, would commit suicide. And in the most stunning event of them all, Josh Powell would murder his two little boys and kill himself with brutality beyond belief.

©2014 gregg olsen and rebecca morris (P)2014 gregg olsen

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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The Coward and the Angels

If you could sum up If I Can't Have You: in three words, what would they be?

Disturbing, Criminal,Unthinkable. A crime against humanity an unforgivable act.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

I really enjoyed Kevin's very factual voice sort of like the old Dragnet show but not as dry.

What does Laural Merlington and Kevin Pierce bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I enjoyed the Laural reading the alternative pieces such as the emails and letters. Kevin brings a excellent voice for delivery facts.

If you could give If I Can't Have You: a new subtitle, what would it be?

Guilt and Betrayal.

Any additional comments?

A few years ago I read Ann Rules take on the case included in her Fatal Friends, Deadly Neighbors Crime Cases Volume 16. This book here is a needed improvement over that other fine book.

With new updates on the case and a seedier perspective on the case will be enjoyed by anyone new or old to the case.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Georgia
  • Little Rock, AR, United States
  • 06-02-14

I gasped several times; I didn't see THAT coming!!

If you could sum up If I Can't Have You: in three words, what would they be?

Fascinating. Gripping. Shocking.

What other book might you compare If I Can't Have You: to and why?

This is by far the best true crime book I have ever read. I don't know of any book that compares. You won't be disappointed.

What about Laural Merlington and Kevin Pierce ’s performance did you like?

At first I though Kevin Pierce's reading was not going to be to my liking, but I adjusted to his rhythm quickly and enjoyed his voice. Laural had very little reading, but what she did was good.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

ABSOLUTELY! I would get to my destination and sit in my car and listen to three more chapters before MAKING myself stop! It's a long book, but I didn't want it to end. I plan to listen to it again.

Any additional comments?

Although this book is a true story and contained some sexual portions, it was told in a way that was not vulgar with basically no profanity. I sat shaking my head many, many times as I listened, wondering why this woman stayed with him and also shocked that such evil exists in our world? It was a well-written book and I'm now looking for others from this author.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

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Top of the line true crime book

Where does If I Can't Have You: rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

My title above says it.

What did you like best about this story?

Actually, I HATED the story. It is a grotesque story. But this is the real world we live in and no one in my opinion tells such stories like this author and this narrator. If I had my druthers, I'd listen to none others but unfortunately, they are mortal men, with only a human capacity to produce such high quality work. Something that took years to compose takes me mere days to consume. A lot of other high quality true crime writers seem a tad dog-eared and shabby by comparison even though they may be best selling authors.

What does Laural Merlington and Kevin Pierce bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I was prepared to not like the addition of the female voice to the narration, thinking it would sound too contrived and distracting. But it turned out to be fine. In one sense, it did help to clarify whose voice or thoughts, or writings, I was hearing. But on the other hand, Kevin Pierce is the absolute best narrator I have ever heard and I do not think there was any actual need at all, for the addition of this female voice.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I did have more of a reaction to this story than to others, sordid and awful though the others may have been. This book even got me to questioning why I like true crime stories and wondering if they are good for me. The story, the situation, was the hardest for me to swallow that I can recall in recent memory.

Any additional comments?

I did recollect getting bits of information about this awful story via news stories and I had always been rather curious about learning more, because on the face of it, it was extremely difficult to fathom how a father could do what this one did. I thought more background would help me understand the human elements, etc. Turned out more background increased, instead of decreased, my sense of astonishment and shock at the turn of events in this case. It just seems to be the ultimate, last meaning of the word "horrible". I had to give up audiobooks for a brief break and get my mind on other matters, before I ordered up more audiobooks.

I believe only Olsen and Pierce could tell this story in its entirety and do it justice.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Disturbingly Gripping

What did you like best about this story?

So sad that this is a true story, as it has so much drama in it, one might think it couldn't possibly be. There are so many twists, I was on truly on the edge of my seat, listening. It's amazing to see just how deeply disturbed a human being can become....and it can be generational.

What about Laural Merlington and Kevin Pierce ’s performance did you like?

The change of voice at the beginning of each chapter was unexpected, and it helped to give "Susan" a voice. (Which sadly, after listening to this book, it's evident that she didn't have one.)

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Very Interesting

This was my first true crime book. What a sad story. But one that needs to be told.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Josh Powell is where he belongs...

I was haunted during and after listening to this book about Susan Powell's (obvious) murder and the inexplicable inability for authorities to find her remains. The whole Powell family, excepting sister Jennifer, should be imprisoned simply for not divulging the truth about Susan's murder and/or for supporting their weak, manipulative, pathetic brother/son, Josh.

The narration was great. Initially, the woman's voice at the beginning of each chapter was off-putting and chilling - she sounded mechanical (computerized) as she read excerpts from Susan's emails, diary and letters. It eventually it made perfect sense and lent itself to this profoundly disturbing story.

This case deserved FBI attention or at least a more through, condensed investigation. The local officials seemed to drag their feet and relied on silly methods to try to trick Josh... the investigation wore on for years. They never put the REAL heat on this guy. Also, child/family services, while respecting that Josh was never formally charged with the murder of his children's mother, should have been monitoring Josh more closely. Supervised visitation with his children should have been held in a controlled environment - not Josh's home. Also, he played ridiculous games with Susan's parents. As if they hadn't suffered enough, he dangled their grandchildren and then ripped them away from them for no reason other than to be a complete jack*ss. I know this is a touchy for local/state authorities, because technically a person is innocent until proven guilty, but surely a case including a missing, presumed dead mother, whose husband is the prime suspect, deserves to be handled more delicately than most. These poor children are dead because a) their father was a maniac, b) social services were too timid (forced by policy, procedure) and c) police were too slow in putting together the pieces of the crime and focused too heavily on the lack of a body. Susan was a moral, upright, hard-working person and devoted mother - her disappearance should have been treated with alarms from day one.

I ended the book with feelings of complete and utter frustration. I cannot believe how this played out. I cannot believe how Josh (who seemed less than intelligent) pulled this off. I can't believe how much the Cox family has suffered. If Josh Powell didn't kill himself, I'd have to refrain from getting on a plane to Puyallup myself. Josh Powell and most of his kin are cowards and villains, mostly thanks to their disturbed/dysfunctional patriarch. What a complete waste and total shame. RIP Susan, Charlie & Braden.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

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Hard to Believe People Can Be This Horrible

This is one of those books that you wish was fiction.

There are so many despicable characters in this narrative. Just when you think it can't get any worse, something or someone else appears.

There is noticeable generational dysfunction, which is sad. Many lives destroyed, while nobody getting any kind of help. Susan and her children were the ultimate victims, but her parents are right behind them. I felt so horribly bad for them.

The husband's oldest sister is to be commended for standing by Susan's family. It had to be very hard for her but her courage to do the right thing makes one believe in the goodness of people, especially as she came from a very dysfunctional and horrible family.

Susan''s husband was a monster, but so was his Dad. Since they still don't know what happened to her we are left to wonder who did what to her.

Excellent true crime writing but a heart-wrenching listen.

5 stars

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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So good

Narrator and author did an amazing job with this book, it was gripping from beginning to end. I started it and spent every available moment listening until it was over.

What a terrible, horrible thing that's happened to that family. From listening and seeing it on the news in Utah I knew about the situation but this book went in depth about the evil monster Josh Powell and what he did to his entire family. I don't want to be quick to recommend this book because the story is horrific but if that's what you like to read then it's the book for you.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Heartbreaking and compelling

This is my first review after some 120 audible.com book purchases, most of which are in the true crime genre. This particular story stands out because of its heartbreaking conclusion and the skillful narrative that moves toward it. This is one of several titles I have listened to more than once, and I find the story all the more engaging and compelling when knowing in advance how it will turn out. Both narrators are masterful. Kevin Pierce, the main narrator, is, as always, superb--especially in this work that requires pathos and empathy.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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I was literally in my car yelling at the radio

Where does If I Can't Have You: rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

10

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

I've heard of this story, but never really read anything about it till now. I downloaded it based on the reviews and the fact that this guy was able to do what he did is insane. It was a really good book, really sad in the way this women and her children lived and how they suffered at the hands of the man that was supposed to love them the most.

What about Laural Merlington and Kevin Pierce ’s performance did you like?

They did a really good job in reading the story and making the emotion be felt. I could not stop listening.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Yes! I was literally in my car listening on the way home from work yelling at the radio, it has a lot of "DUH" moments. When I was listening to the way it all ended and how tragic it was a bawled.

Any additional comments?

The fact that this evil man was able to do what he did to this women and her babies is disgusting. I hope he burns in hell for what he did to her, her children and her family. He is manipulative and was all about what he wanted and would make others suffer for his own entertainment, he a vile man does the devils work. I pray for this family, I know Susan and her babies and in the glory of heaven together with no pain and suffering. Praise God!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Jamie Cottam-howarth
  • 02-24-15

review

Very good I recommend this as a good read especially if you have a long drive

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • E
  • 10-07-16

What a heartbreaking listen

Where does If I Can't Have You: rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is one of my Top 5 audiobooks.

What did you like best about this story?

This is a very difficult story to listen to. It is very raw and you can almost feel the pain of Susan Cox Powell's family (particularly her father) and friends went through. To have a daughter disappear then be at the mercy of a seriously creepy and deranged son in law who clearly hates you and finally to have two of your grandsons brutally murdered - absolutely heartbreaking. The story however is beautifully told, very captivating throughout, with no unnecessary information but at the same time with plenty of detail.

What does Laural Merlington and Kevin Pierce bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Kevin Pierce is the main narrator and does an amazing job as always, Laural is Susan's voice - I liked this touch as it made Susan seem a bit even closer to the listener.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Bobbie
  • 04-21-16

Fantastic

This was one of the best true crime stories I have listened to. Story brilliant narration brilliant thank you

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • D Wade
  • 03-01-16

Heartbreaking

Heartbreaking, Tearful, True Crime Story. A must read for all true crime readers. ... .

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Nick Gilligan
  • 12-28-17

Sad story badly told

If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

I don’t think this book transferred well to audible so don’t recommend to anyone.

Has If I Can't Have You: put you off other books in this genre?

Yes

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Didn’t detract, just didn’t have good dialog to work with

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

I knew the story so disappointed of the haphazard way it was set out. Didn’t really get the 2 narrators. If the female was speaking from point of view of victim, then fine but she seemed to be narrating odd segments.

Any additional comments?

This book felt disjointed and didn’t flow. I know it’s a true story and that can’t change, but the telling of the story could have been better. I knew the story so stuck with it. My husband didn’t and got frustratred with the fractured time line and no clear narrative.

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  • Loo loo
  • 08-16-17

Tragic story that needs to be told

What made the experience of listening to If I Can't Have You: the most enjoyable?

The narrator reads in a clear way but you can tell he cares about the story he is telling. Both narrators were very good & helped to keep track of who was speaking.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Susan - of course!! I ended up loving her & so sad for what happened to a beautiful kind & brave lady.

What does Laural Merlington and Kevin Pierce bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

They bring the story to life & made it very gripping as if it was just happening now.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

The story that needs to be told so that the mistakes made can never happen again.

Any additional comments?

This tragic & heartbreaking tale will remain in my head for a very long time.

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  • Sarah
  • 10-30-17

Interesting

Never heard this story before and I guess I wanted some sort of outcome or to know more about what happened after? Was very well written getting you to know the case and personalities of everyone, wasn't boring at all. There is definitely a lot more to this story and how the system failed once again. Worth a listen to and I will be checking in on this case to find out more!

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  • Christine
  • 08-14-16

Horrific story, precise presentation

this is a brilliant and sympathetic account of a ghastly and tragic story. Kevin Pearce as always gives a flawless delivery.