American Mother, a review by Shelley

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The True Story of a Troubled Family, Motherhood, and the Cyanide Murders That Shook the World
Gregg Olsen

Thread Books | Grand Central Publishing
Publishing November 8th, 2022
496 pages
Amazon | GoodreadsΒ Β 

A few years ago I read the fiction book Lying Next to Me by Gregg Olsen and absolutely loved it. I am so pleased to report that Olsen’s non-fiction did not disappoint. Apparently, this is an updated version of Bitter Almonds. I remember the Tylenol package tampering cases, in Chicago, in 1982, this case happened in 1986, so obviously it is a copycat, but a lot closer to home.

Wow, what a story this was. This is the type of book you wouldn’t believe if it was fiction, you’d say to yourself no way is that even possible. Well let me tell you, it IS possible. The book isn’t just about the murder itself, although Olsen does a great job of researching and telling that story.

What I really found compelling was the relationships, especially the mother/daughter ones, and Stella’s and Cindy’s is at the forefront. What would YOU do if you suspect your mother of murdering your stepdad? Would you turn her in? Or would you stand by her side? That is the question Cindy has to ask herself and what she did next completely shocked me.

I loved Olsen’s writing style, he details the little things so it is easy to imagine what is taking place and what the family members and friends look like. The way he describes their homes, clothes, and demeanor was amazing. It is very obvious Mr. Olsen did an enormous amount of research. I also appreciated that the chapters were short as it made it so easy to “read just one more” and before I knew it I had finished the 400+ page book.

In the afterward, the author mentions how he heard from Cindy, finally, and that he kept up with the goings on of the two families who had members die from tainted Excedrin. He also mentions photos and I wish some of them were included, other than that this was a well-thought-out and researched true crime book.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the Advance Readers Copy.

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