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If I Can't Have You: Susan Powell, Her Mysterious Disappearance, and the Murder of Her Children

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  620 ratings  ·  113 reviews
In If I Can't Have You, bestsellingauthor 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, Ch
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published May 20th 2014 by St. Martin's Press (first published May 6th 2014)
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"Mommy's in the trunk...Mommy and Daddy got out...And Mommy never came back.

I'm thinking unless you've lived on another planet the last few years, most everyone is aware of the basics of this sad story. Utah wife and mother Susan Powell goes missing after the husband takes the two young boys *camping* to a very remote location in the middle of the winter and in the middle of the night at that. Comes home the next day and spends hours cleaning out his van and areas in the home instead of taking p
Kiirsi Hellewell
Even knowing this story intimately, inside and out, as I do, I still couldn't put this book down. I learned several things that even I didn't know. It was accurately factual and well-researched, and told Susan's story very well. The authors did a wonderful job.
Alisi ☆ needs to stop starting new books ☆
I felt like this after finishing this book:

I'm disgusted by the police. I had no idea that the circumstantial case was so strong against Josh Powell. Those poor kids shouldn't've died. I mean, it would've been terrible if the only thing the police had against Josh was his wife's disappearance. That wouldn't lesson the tragedy. It's just the fact that they had so much against him. Enough to, at the very least, terminated his parental rights.

Let's see: a) they found Susan's blood in an area that J
Bill  Kerwin

On February 5th, 2012, hours before the Giants defeated the Patriots to win their fourth Superbowl, America's television screens were filled with images of the what remained of an exploded house. Josh Powell--a person of interest for more than two years in the disappearance of his wife Susan--had killed his two his two young sons and himself in order to prevent his in-laws from taking custody of the boys.

This book is an account of Susan Powell's troubled marriage and her suspicious disappearance
Ruth Turner

I found this book to be flat and emotionless. It was like reading a newspaper article.

Nevertheless, it's a heart breaking story and I feel that at least part of the tragedy could have been avoided.
This book has two major flaws. First, there's just not enough material to make this book of this length interesting. We all know that poor Susan Powell is dead and we all know it was because of her husband, Josh, and an undetermined number of his creepy family members. But because Susan's body has never been found, her husband can never be brought to justice by a trial, and none of the remaining Powells are talking, there's not really too much to write about.

Second, what there is to write about
I can remember reading bits and pieces about the Powell family on the internet. Just like everyone else, I was spellbound by this story. Hoping for a happy ending. Even though Susan was missing. I was praying for the two little boys, Charlie and Braden. It seemed like the boys were going to get their happy ending until that unthinkable act by their father took them away.

I am familiar with Mr. Olsen's work as an author. I can not imagine writing a book like this. I don't know how Ann Rule does i
I read this book in three days, not just because of the book's extreme readability, but because I couldn't stand to be a part of the evil of the events described therein for much longer than that.

Like many others, I followed this case compulsively when it was in the news. The book reports, in great detail, of what happened. But more than that, it functions as a reminder of other important things:

1. Susan's family (I'm clearly referring to the Coxes here) have suffered nearly more than one can po

I rated this book 4 stars and not 5, not because I didn't find it absolutely compelling, but because I was really frustrated with the ending. Not the book ending, the story's ending.
This was a sad, SAD story, I couldn't put the book down because I was hoping to find some closure for that poor family. The role of the police in this crime is unbelievable, they could have prevented Josh's heinous crime and save those poor kids.
The book was really well written and researched.
This is a well-written account of the Susan Powell disappearance and subsequent murder of her children that played out locally in Utah a few years ago. There are not a lot of good guys in it. The evil and perversion of a family, the slow movement of the the police, and the helplessness of everybody else makes this a difficult book.
After many years of training--from Nancy Drew to Erle Stanley Gardner to Mary Higgins Clark, with advanced training by Patricia Cornwell and John Sandford and,k semina
Robert Miller
This book examines the disappearance of Susan Powell who went missing in 2009 from her West Valley City, Utah home she shared with her husband Josh Powell and two sons Charlie and Braden. Early on, Josh becomes a suspect and only minimally cooperates with the police claiming he had been camping with his boys when Susan disappeared. The authors do a good job of describing the time sequence of the investigation and characters who play central roles; they explain why Josh, his father Steve and brot ...more
Linda Marini
What an incredible story...the in depth story of the disappearance of Susan Powell, why her husband was "a person of interest", how the legal system failed her two sons, brutally killed by their father and how one family fought to find their daughter who married into a family of psychologically damaged people that protected their own. Steve Powell was sexually obsessed with his daughter-in-law and his family protected him. He and his son worked to denigrate the character of Susan before her fami ...more
Sheila DeChantal
If I Can’t Have You is a powerful and disturbing true retelling of the disappearance of Susan Powell and the eventual murder of her two young sons. It is always hard to put into words what I think of a true crime read. Bizarre, engaging, the human psyche occasionally blows my mind.

True Crime authors Gregg Olsen and Rebecca Morris did an amazing recollection of the details of this sad senseless occurrence of not that many years ago. I listened to this on audio and narrator Kevin Pierce handles th
So terribly sad & tragic, but documented well.
I do not know why I wanted to read this. I sort of regret it, but now I know that true crime is best left to Wikipedia entries for me.
I always enjoy true crime stories because they give me a chance to try to solve a crime as well as providing insight into the criminal mind. This one was fascinating, partly because part of the story takes place in Washington and partly because it simply didn't have to happen. It was also heartbreaking because the crime is never solved; nor is the victim's body ever found. There wasn't much to solve, though, since it seems clear from the very beginning what probably happened. The book tells the ...more
Sep 28, 2014 Jay rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: True Crime Readers
'If I Can't Have You' is one of those books in the True Crime genre that cause you to question whether you're reading real life or fiction. The sick part about this case is that with every turn you can only wish it was fiction. Not only was Josh obviously warped, his family/pedo dad was a disgrace. Even worse, due to what police continued to believe was a 'lack of sufficient evidence', a psychopath was able to wipe out his entire family. Holy crap, have I woken up yet?!

The only criticism I have
Full blog review in progress

+ My favorite GO true crime novel.

+ A very tough emotional read. Incredibly well researched. It was very clear that authors were invested in the story. This is lacking in a number of true crime stories, including ones written by this author.

+ had moments where segments of the story felt off and thrown into the story. I couldn't figure out why they were put in at that moment or what they added to the story at that time.
This book is horribly disturbing, but I already knew that going into it. I've always believed Josh Powell was guilty in what I am going to call the murder of Susan Powell, and this book didn't do anything to change my mind. We may never know what happened to Susan's body, but the demented details of what Josh, his father, and his brother Mike have done will forever haunt my thoughts. This book was an incredibly interesting glimpse into their lives. Though I new much of the story from the news, t ...more
Ariel Uppstrom
Though the true crime story was interesting in its disturbing nature, the fact that it is unresolved made me wonder why someone would bother writing a book about it. What also made me not like the book was the writing style. Even though I could have looked up the crime and gotten a summary before reading the book, I wanted there to be some mystery as the crimes unfolded. However, the book wasn't written to create that suspense. It was clear from the beginning what happened which made the differe ...more
Allison Wonderland
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
A surprisingly well-written summation of the Powell disappearance in Utah and the subsequent suicide/murder in Washington state. Many true crime books feel sloppily put together, but I didn't get that feel from this one.

I had followed this case quite closely, but it gave me a little bit of closure to read about it in one fell swoop. The authors availed themselves of the records released by the West Valley City Police Department and were able to add some details that I was not aware of.

The book i
Most everyone knows of this case and the horrific ending, but this book shed light on many facts not widely shared in the media. I lived in Puyallup while all of this was going on, so it was even more emotional to read knowing that much of this was playing out just around the corner, so to speak.

I found this book to be bone-chilling and infuriating, not because of how it was written, but because of what was learned about everything related to Susan's disappearance and the unthinkable deaths of
Although this book gives a little more insight into what life was like in Josh and Susan Powell's home, expands on their background story, and fills in some of the blanks of this bizarre and twisted case, there's no helping the fact that when you're finished reading it you're STILL frustrated that Josh Powell was never arrested and held accountable for whatever it is he did to his wife. Why did the police wait so long to act? Why couldn't they see what all the rest of us could see and keep those ...more
I have never heard off this case although being in grad school and working could account for keeping to myself.
I am very picky when it comes to true crime authors and wasn't sure whether to pick this up but I am so happy I did. Gregg Olsen does an amazing job at accounting for everything that happened and although it goes back and forth sometimes; I understood why, so many details and so many people to give statements. I read this book in less than 36 hours and could not put it down. I found it
Lindsey Jones
Sometimes I wonder why I put myself through such torture? Is it because things like this just seem to horrific to be true? Is it because of my psychology background? Even worse, is it because I'm wondering if I might see glimpses and situations of people I know and encounter on a daily basis through such stories? We like to believe this could only happen somewhere else to someone else, but I'm sure The Coxes, Kiirsi, JoVonna, and so many others never imagined this tragedy could lurk so close to ...more
This was an interesting, but also very horrifying story about a marriage gone terribly wrong. Susan Powell disappeared in December 2009, and she nor her body have ever been found up to the present day. Her husband no doubt murdered her, and his family, a sick group of individuals except for the oldest daughter Jennifer, probably knew exactly what happened to her. Her husband, Josh Powell, killed himself and his five and seven year old sons, when he learned that custody of the boys was probably g ...more
Sarah Peterson
I first heard about Susan Powell on a TV show. I can't recall which, it may have been Dateline. This was before the murder, and even before Steve Powell's arrest. From what I can recall, the TV show didn't seem to go after Josh so much at the time, but this was probably because it was early on and, as the book states, the police didn't release most of the investigation until 2013.

Later, I saw on another TV show, Inside Edition, I believe, that Steve was spouting off his theories and playing som
Thought I'd just read a little of the beginning because I'm already reading a couple other books, but ended up not being able to stop until I finished it in one sitting. Living in Salt Lake City, this story has never been far from my mind as we all wondered why Susan Cox Powell's obvious murderer had not yet been arrested. This book filled in many details but I still can't understand how the West Valley City Police could let the murderer slip away to kill again. That same abundance of caution is ...more
David Putman
Most of the book appears to be based on police records or other published sources and as such I enjoyed this part. Unfortunately there are a few statements made as though they are fact which appear to be biases of the authors (e.g., statements not tied to a comment such as "...Powell believed...". For example one statement said the the LDS church teaches it's women to be submissive. I went to the web page and searched on the word submissive. The responses were in relation to being submi ...more
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True Crime Enthus...: Gregg Olsen 2 12 Nov 18, 2014 12:02PM  
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Throughout his career, Gregg Olsen has demonstrated an ability to create a detailed narrative that offers readers fascinating insights into the lives of people caught in extraordinary circumstances.

A New York Times bestselling author, Olsen has written seven nonfiction books, three novels, and contributed a short story to a collection edited by Lee Child.

The award-winning author has been a guest o
More about Gregg Olsen...
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