American Mother: The True Story of a Troubled Family, Motherhood, and the Cyanide Murders That Shook the World

by Gregg Olsen

SYNOPSIS – From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of If You Tell comes the absolutely unputdownable and chilling true-crime story of Stella Nickell—a mother and wife who did the unthinkable… and the unforgivable.

At 5.02 pm on June 5, 1986, an emergency call came into the local sheriff’s office in the small town of Auburn, Washington State. A distressed housewife, Stella Nickell, said her husband Bruce was having a seizure. Officers rushed to the Nickell’s mobile home, to find Stella standing frozen at the door… Bruce was on the floor fighting for his life.

As Stella became the beneficiary of over $175,000 in a life insurance pay-out, forensics discovered that Bruce had consumed painkillers laced with cyanide.

A week later, fifteen-year-old Hayley was getting ready for another school day. Her mom, Sue, called out ‘I love you’ before heading into the bathroom and moments later collapsed on the floor. Sue never regained consciousness, and the autopsy revealed she had been poisoned by cyanide-tainted headache pills. Just like Bruce.

While a daughter grieved the sudden and devastating loss of her mother, a young woman, Cindy, was thinking about her own mom Stella. She thought about the years of neglect and abuse, the tangled web of secrets Stella had shared with her, and Cindy contemplated turning her mom into the FBI…

Gripping and heart-breaking, Gregg Olsen uncovers the shocking true story of a troubled family. He delves into a complex mother-daughter relationship rooted in mistrust and deception, and the journey of the sweet curly-haired little girl from Oregon whose fierce ambition to live the American Dream led her to make the ultimate betrayal.

A sensational real-life mystery, American Mother will hook those fascinated by The Staircase and Making of a Murderer.

This book was originally published as Bitter Almonds.

MY THOUGHTS – I read this book long ago under its original title. Much of it was like reading a new book for me, as my memory isn’t what it used to be. I would have preferred a new true crime story from this author. I’ve read and liked many of his other non-fiction crime reads through the years, but it seems like he’s been into crime fiction more in recent years. This remains a good read for this genre, about a case so many remember.


PUBLISHER – Thread Books – 540 pages

PUBLICATION DATE – Nov 8th, 2022

MY RATING – 4/5 stars

ABOUT THE AUTHOR – A #1 New York Times bestselling true-crime writer, Gregg Olsen is praised for his ability to create a detailed narrative that offers readers fascinating insights into the lives of real people and fictional characters caught in extraordinary circumstances.  He has authored ten nonfiction books, over twenty novels, a novella, and a short story, which appeared in a collection edited by Lee Child.  In addition to television and radio appearances, he has been featured in RedbookUSA TodayPeopleSalon magazine, Seattle TimesLos Angeles Times and the New York Post.  He is a native of Seattle and currently lives in rural Washington state. 

REPOST – Raw Deal: The Untold Story Of NYPD’s “Cannibal Cop”


By Gil Valle

First posted July 8th, 2017


From the previews, I could tell that this book was going to be unusual, and it sure is one heck of a journey. The changes happen so fast that it feels like a demolition derby at times. A real life wild ride written by Gil Valle, a NY cop who has a new baby he’s crazy about and is going through a rough patch with his wife, who has moved out for a while as they work on things. He likes his job and is feeling he’s becoming good at it, when one one day he is surprised by a bunch of cops as he’s getting ready to leave for work. He’s taken for questioning about his dirty little secret habit of going onto the Internet and looking at porn while talking about twisted fantasies with others who share his interests…

View original post 189 more words


Deadly Triangle: The Famous Architect, His Wife, Their Chauffeur, and Murder Most Foul

by Susan Goldenberg

SYNOPSIS – The 1935 murder of architect Francis Rattenbury, designer of the iconic Parliament Buildings in Victoria, British Columbia, and the arrest and lurid trial of his wife, Alma Rattenbury, and George Stoner, their chauffeur (also her lover and half her age), became one of the twentieth century’s most sensational cases.

MY THOUGHTS – At first, I thought that this was a book I read long ago about an American architect and murder, until I took a closer look. When I got further into it, the setting is British Columbia, Canada and later on England. Architect Rattenbury became successful in Victoria, British Columbia, despite his shady business dealings and many enemies made along the way. The story of a married man and a twice previously married woman who start an affair in the 1930s. They did nothing to keep it a secret, and became openly despised and ostracized. The repercussions cost them everything, home, business, and friends. They throw in the towel and move to England to start over. This is where the 3rd part of the triangle comes into the picture. Good true crime that caused a big stir from nearly 90 years ago.


PUBLISHER – Dundurn Press -288 pages

PUBLICATION DATE – Nov 8th, 2022


ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Susan Goldenberg is the author of nine books and has won both a Canadian Author’s Award and a Canadian Business Press Editors’ Award. She has written for the Sunday New York Times, the Financial Post, and the Financial Times of Canada, and currently pens articles for Canada’s History magazine. She also writes a heritage column on the district of Toronto where she lives.

Book Review ~ Dangerous Ground: My Friendship with a Serial Killer


By M. William Phelps

Originally posted  July 6, 2017


I was so eagerly waiting for this book to come out that I was really excited when I got a chance to get it early to review it. It’s a departure from his typical books, Phelps bravely delves into his family’s personal history including some members struggles with drug and alcohol addiction. Then, getting the news that his brother Mark’s wife Diane has been murdered, and having to tell him when he gets home. It later comes out that she’d likely been killed at the hands of a serial killer operating in the area at the time, but it still hasn’t been solved. Phelps writes about the effects this has had on the entire family over the years, especially on the children and Mark. All very emotional and heartbreaking.

The other part of this book is Phelps writing about Raven…

View original post 246 more words


A Dog’s Devotion: True Adventures of a K9 Search and Rescue Team

by Suzanne Elshult & James Guy Mansfield

SYNOPSIS – In late March of 2014, death descended upon the community of Oso, Washington in the form of a massive landslide. Ten million cubic yards of dirt and mud crashed through homes, sweeping a 20-foot-high wall of debris before it and scouring the valley floor. In the cold rain of that morning, an entire community disappeared in a sea of mud. In the desperate hours that followed, rescue crews were able to pull only eight survivors out of the wrecked landscape. And then all became quiet, with the stunned realization that many more people were missing, but none were still living.

This is the moment when the story of A Dog’s Devotion begins. The emergency call from Oso went out, and was answered by K9 Search and Rescue (SAR) teams from across the Pacific Northwest. Suzanne, along with her 4-year-old Labrador Retriever, Keb, and her teammate Guy, was one of the SAR teams to respond to this disaster. In this book, readers immediately find themselves on the ground in the cold mud of the Oso Landslide Disaster on the desperate search for the remains of over forty lost souls. In subsequent chapters, readers will accompany Suzanne, Guy, and Keb as they are inserted by helicopter to search high snowfields on Mount Rainier, or as they traverse steep, forested slopes searching for the clandestine grave of murder victims. They’ll join K9 Keb, as her keen nose leads to human remains in the forests of Washington State and as far away as the woods of Scandinavia.

Keb’s story is of a dedicated K9 who can distinguish the scent of the dead from the scent of the living, and who can detect buried bones and even corpses underwater. Readers will follow this intrepid K9 and her teammates as they face the challenges of changeable weather, deep northwest forests, high mountain slopes, and menacing coyotes, to find dead bodies, missing hikers, and even the bones of murder victims from long ago. Among their successes: finding multiple victims buried by the 2014 Oso Landslide, solving the mysterious disappearance of women in wealthy suburbs, and finding human bones thought to be forever lost to time. It’s their story about evolving as search and rescue volunteers while overcoming harsh conditions, inner demons, a rust-bound bureaucracy, and back-stabbing teammates. While internal conflicts threaten their larger K9 team, Keb’s training, loyalty, and perseverance inspire them, and help them find the resolve to carry on their service to the community.

MY THOUGHTS – This is a great inside look at the Search & Rescue groups and what it takes to dedicate your life to it. The book tells of different searches that Suzanne, her dog Keb, and her good friend and search support partner Guy volunteered on. The Oso landslide was harrowing to read about, with so many lost. It shows the variables between different types of searches and how wound up the searchers can get on the scene. Such an interesting read.


PUBLISHER – Lyons Press – 300 pages

PUBLICATION DATE – Oct 1st, 2022



Suzanne Elshult has been active in Search and Rescue (SAR) since 2001. She has held leadership positions with both the Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue K9 Team and Everett Mountain Rescue. She and her K9 partners have deployed on hundreds of SAR missions, ranging from searches for missing and dead subjects in mountain and wilderness terrain, to avalanche and disaster searches, as well as urban searches. Suzanne has worked with K9 Keb since 2010. They have certified in Airscent, Human Remains Detection, Avalanche, and Disaster search techniques. Guy Mansfield, PhD has been active in Search and Rescue since 2008, with experience as a member of Everett Mountain Rescue, Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue K9 Team, and Cascadia Search Dogs. He has deployed on SAR missions ranging from wilderness searches, to technical rope-rescues, to disaster searches, to urban searches for abducted children. Guy has served as Operations Section Chief and Planning Section Chief on some of the largest searches in northwest Washington State, has assisted in the Green River Killer Case, and other homicide-related searches. He is currently a Director of the Washington State SAR Planning Unit.

Guy Mansfield, PhD has been active in Search and Rescue since 2008, with experience as a member of Everett Mountain Rescue, Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue K9 Team, and Cascadia Search Dogs. He has deployed on SAR missions ranging from wilderness searches, to technical rope-rescues, to disaster searches, to urban searches for abducted children. Guy has served as Operations Section Chief and Planning Section Chief on some of the largest searches in northwest Washington State, has assisted in the Green River Killer Case, and other homicide-related searches. He is currently a Director of the Washington State SAR Planning Unit. 

Book Review ~ BAD CITY

Bad City: Peril and Power in the City of Angels

by Paul Pringle

SYNOPSIS – For fans of Spotlight and Catch and Kill comes a nonfiction thriller about corruption and betrayal radiating across Los Angeles from one of the region’s most powerful institutions, a riveting tale from a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist who investigated the shocking events and helped bring justice in the face of formidable odds.

On a cool, overcast afternoon in April 2016, a salacious tip arrived at the L.A. Times that reporter Paul Pringle thought should have taken, at most, a few weeks to check out: a drug overdose at a fancy hotel involving one of the University of Southern California’s shiniest stars―Dr. Carmen Puliafito, the head of the prestigious medical school. Pringle, who’d long done battle with USC and its almost impenetrable culture of silence, knew reporting the story wouldn’t be a walk in the park. USC is one of the biggest employers in L.A., and it casts a long shadow.

But what he couldn’t have foreseen was that this tip would lead to the unveiling of not one major scandal at USC but two, wrapped in a web of crimes and cover-ups. The rot rooted out by Pringle and his colleagues at The Times would creep closer to home than they could have imagined―spilling into their own newsroom.

Packed with details never before disclosed, Pringle goes behind the scenes to reveal how he and his fellow reporters triumphed over the city’s debased institutions, in a narrative that reads like L.A. noir. This is L.A. at its darkest and investigative journalism at its brightest.

MY THOUGHTS – I wasn’t sure if this was my type of read or not, but it turned out to be a page turner. A reporter starts checking into a tip and it tuns into a wild investigation. He uncovers some pretty shocking information that keeps growing. The problem is all of the places involved seem to be intertwined and shutting him out or covering up for them. Even his own newspaper was interfering, shutting the story down totally at one point. Bizarre but true story.


PUBLISHER – Celadon Books – 274 pages



ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Paul Pringle is a Los Angeles Times reporter who specializes in investigating corruption. In 2019, he and two colleagues won the Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting for their work uncovering the widespread sexual abuse by Dr. George Tyndall at the University of Southern California, an inquiry that grew out of their reporting the year before on Dr. Carmen Puliafito, dean of USC’s medical school. Pringle was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2009 and a member of reporting teams that won Pulitzer Prizes in 2004 and 2011. Pringle won the George Polk Award in 2008, the same year the Society of Professional Journalists of Greater Los Angeles honored him as a distinguished journalist. Along with several colleagues, he shared in Harvard University’s 2011 Worth Bingham Prize for Investigative Reporting. Pringle and a Times colleague won the California Newspaper Publishers Association’s Freedom of Information Award in 2014 and the University of Florida’s Joseph L. Brechner Freedom of Information Award in 2015. Pringle lives in Glendale, California.


The Tuskegee Strangler: The Nicest Serial Killer They Ever Met

by Linda Lou Long

SYNOPSIS – Every serial killer is a “nice guy”—until he’s found out. The shocking, true account of a Southern charmer who left a trail of victims in his wake.

Jerry Marcus fooled them all. He was “a nice guy,” always helped at home, did well in school, an athlete, and always employed. When things went wrong, he was the first to help clean up the mess. He was the last person anyone suspected of being a serial killer.

After Marcus was caught and sentenced to life in prison in the late ’70s, author Linda Lou Long spent years corresponding with him. The Tuskegee Strangler gives an inside look into the workings of a man who is not your typical serial killer.

MY THOUGHTS – Good research by a writer who corresponded with this little known serial killer for years. He was a very mobile killer who was unique in that he became involved with the women before murdering them. He also had a 13 year cooling off period between kills. Delves into all of his known killings before he was arrested and imprisoned. Good true crime.


PUBLISHER – WildBlue Press – 214 pages

PUBLICATION DATE – Aug 2nd, 2022


ABOUT THE AUTHOR – This is apparently the first book by Linda Lou Long.


The Unveiling: A Mother’s Reflection on Murder, Grief, and Trial Life

by Ruth Markel

SYNOPSIS – Ruth Markel’s tenacious fight for justice on behalf of the murder of her son, Dan Markel, and the struggle to be legally reunited with her grandchildren.

Ruth Markel is the mother of the late Dan Markel, a noted law professor who was murdered in Tallahassee, Florida in 2014.

In The Unveiling, she describes her experiences since the day of Dan’s death from several distinct perspectives:

  • As a devastated mother with the unique human perspective of becoming a homicide survivor and victim.
  • As a woman whose attempts to achieve normalcy and live a healthy life are continually interrupted by painful reminders, a rollercoaster of hearings, frequently changing trial dates, verdicts, and appeals.
  • As an engaged citizen using what she has learned to help other victims of homicide and violent crimes recover from trauma and begin an optimistic outlook on life.
  • As an insider who shows how our collective network of family, friends, and experts—including a murder coach—have helped her family remain involved, motivated, and hopeful.
  • As a grandmother who had not been allowed to see her grandchildren in many years, she used advocacy to inspire the Florida State Legislature to pass a grandparent visitation bill.
  • And as an experienced author of nine books using the written word to effectively address the shift from grief to promise.

MY THOUGHTS – I’m sure many people recall when this tragic crime took place in Tallahassee, FL in 2014. The daytime murder of the much – loved and respected law professor Dan Markel lingered in my mind, making me want to learn more about the case. When I figured out that this book was the answer to my curiosity, I was torn. It’s well written and kept me zeroed in on it all the way through. But it was also triggering for me, as I lost my son, my only child last October, and he was murdered as well. But I feel that this book is important enough that I pushed through and read it, mostly through tears. I don’t think I’ve ever related so much to a book in its descriptions and explanations of profound or complicated grief. While it’s not an easy, emotionless read, I found it very worthwhile. My heart goes out to the author and her family.


PUBLISHER – Post Hill Press – 240 pages

PUBLICATION DATE – Sep 20th, 2022


ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Ruth Markel is a noted author, public speaker, and the president of RNM Enterprises, a leading management consulting firm. She has worked in senior management positions in both private and public sectors for the past forty years. Ruth has lectured on issues concerning negotiation and advancement in organizations at the University of Toronto, the London Business School, and Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University.)

In addition to several TV and radio appearances, Ruth’s published work includes:

Moving Up: A Woman’s Guide To A Better Future At Work (HarperCollins Publishers, 1988), Room At The Top: A Woman’s Guide To Moving Up In Buisness (Penguin Books Canada, 1985),  Der Weg Nach Oben (Econ, 1987), L’Art De Negocier (La Presse, 1988), Une Place Au Sommet (Les Editions La Presse, 1986), Le Defi D’une Carrier (La Presse, 1987), S’affirmer Pour Evoluer (La Presse, 1988), Comment Gerer (La Presse, 1987), Karriere 1st Weiblich (Rowohlt, 1999).

Due to the circumstances surrounding the unforeseen murder of Ruth’s son Dan Markel, she has appeared on 20/20 ABC, Inside Edition, CourtTV, and Dateline NBC, and participated in the hit podcast Over My Dead Body, by Wondery. With support from Dan’s friends and extended networks, Ruth’s efforts successfully changed Florida’s restrictive grandparent visitation statutes to provide access to courts for other families facing terrible circumstances.

Ruth hopes to use her platform and the media coverage that is inevitable around the trial and the publicity of Dan’s case to make sense of, provide consolation and counsel about a horrific and powerlessness situation.

Homicide doesn’t discriminate. It spans race, religion, socio-economic, and public status. People are hungry for these stories, as evidenced by dedicated True Crime conversations around the world (CrimeCon, CrimeFest, Death Becomes Us) and a proliferation of new shows, podcasts, and online communities interested in following these cases.

“As Danny’s mother, I have been a prominent figure, but I have never told my full story to the public before now,” Ruth writes. “That, combined with the keen interest in Danny’s murder and the popularity of true crime in general, convinces me that my story will help others through the experiences of their grief from murders, victims of violence and grandparent alienation.”

Dr. Makary on fentanyl warning to Lollapalooza drug users: ‘There is no safe drug now’


Joshua Nelson

Following a report that Chicago warned about fentanyl-laced drugs at Lollapalooza, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine professor Dr. Marty Makary said on Friday that there is “virtually no safe drug.”

“It’s very hard to get the dose of fentanyl correct for recreational use. So it’s very easy, given how potent it is to overdose. And fentanyl used to be in heroin, cocaine and in opioid pills that were used for drug use,” Makary told “The Faulkner Focus.”

“Now it’s in virtually all drugs. It’s in marijuana. So when people smoke marijuana thinking that it’s safe, it may be laced with fentanyl. It’s in methamphetamine.”

Makary reacted to Chicago public health officials advising Lollapalooza goers to test their drugs before partaking to make sure they are not laced with fentanyl.


The Chicago Department of Public…

View original post 233 more words