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 Redbook, USA Today, People, Salon magazine, Seattle Times, Los Angeles Times and the New York Post. He is a native of Seattle and currently lives in rural Washington state.