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

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3.93  ·  Rating details ·  1,497 Ratings  ·  207 Reviews
In If I Can't Have You, bestselling 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, C
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Hardcover, 336 pages
Published May 20th 2014 by St. Martin's Press (first published May 6th 2014)
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Bill  Kerwin
Mar 10, 2015 rated it liked it

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 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 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, but it is
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Mischenko
Nov 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book pulled me in and I couldn't put it down. After learning about this couple on the news, I had to find out more. It's such a harrowing story and I was hoping to learn details that weren't in the documentaries.

It's well researched and a true crime story that will leave you shocked. It's difficult to read at times, but I wanted to know the truth and every fact. I feel so sorry for Susan's family and I still can't believe what people are willing to do to keep things in their control. It mad
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Kiirsi Hellewell
May 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
Misfit
May 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"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
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Alisi ☆ wants to read too many 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
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Saleh MoonWalker
از داستانهای خوب سبک جنایی که این امکان رو میده که خواننده خودش بتونه مساله رو حل کنه و همچنین دید مناسبی از ذهن مجرم میده. البته اینکه درنهایت مساله هرگز حل نشد و ... کمی آزار دهنده بود. البته چیز زیادی هم برای حل کردن نبود چون تقریبا از همون ابتدا مشخص بود که چه اتفاقی افتاده. داستان ناپدید شدن سوزان پووِل در منزلش در شهر یوتا هستش در حالی که شوهرش و دو پسرش به کمپینگ رفته بودن.
داستان هیجان انگیز و در انتها خیلی تلخه. نثر مناسب و توصیفات دقیق و مناسب شرایط جنایی داره. سرعت پیشرویش هم مناسبه.
Ruth Turner
Jun 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: true-crime

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.
Cheryl
May 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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Annie
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
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Lea
May 10, 2017 rated it liked it

3.5 Stars

When I first started this book, I was disappointed that it seemed to lay out the entire case in the first chapter. Because I thought I was unfamiliar with this one, I wasn't sure how the authors would be able to sustain my interest for the rest of the book. Then I realized that I actually DID know something about this case -- I've seen at least one television show depicting Josh Powell's murder of his two children, but I'd never known about the disappearance of his wife or how her disap
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Melissa
3.5
I had trouble getting into this book at the beginning finding it boring and dragging. Around the middle of the book it picked up speed and became harder to put down.
Scott
Aug 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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BAM The Bibliomaniac
Aug 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: true-crime, library
What I want to actually say in this review would be deemed HIGHLY inappropriate. To have been a friend or family member of Susan Cox Powell must be the most frustrating, exasperating, saddening thing imaginable. To live with no closure and so much pain and death is unbelievable. There were whole chapters that just broke my heart or simply made me want to vomit from the pervading evil and sickness in the Powell family. And I'm sorry but I have to say this-WTF 911 dispatcher???? Were you even list ...more
MAP
Apr 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book follows all the twists and turns of the Susan Powell disappearance and the fallout that occurred because of that. I fully admit that I was buried deep in grad school world when this happened, so I COMPLETELY missed all news stories about this at the time. So I genuinely had no idea where it was all going as I read it.

The writing is well-paced and sucks you in, with only a few flaws. For instance, the writers love doing something like this: "The police began to focus on Steve. They sho
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Valerie
Aug 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Linda Marini
Feb 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
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
Rossy
Jun 09, 2014 rated it really liked it


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.
Michelle Silvestri-Oetinger
May 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: true-crime
I bought this book because during a recent book fair, I listened to a panel of true crime writers, including Rebecca Morris. I can't imagine there is anyone who hasn't heard of this case. It is well written and I found it hard to put down. It's a sad story, heartbreaking, really. It's also sickening and horrifying at times. It left me sad, wishing things had not turned out the way they did!
Jami
May 18, 2016 rated it it was ok
This gets 2 stars from me strictly for horrible writing & editing.
The storytelling was so bad! but the information itself was intriguing. We were all mesmerized by these events and there is lots of information in this book that I had never heard!!! Heartwrenching and sad ... and I wish so much that the boys could of been spared what happened to them in the end. ;(
Lydia
Jul 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic and horrifying. I had only heard a little about this case, and the entire story as presented here was very well done. Not light, happy, fun reading, but if you love true crime you will love it.
Kady
Jun 13, 2014 rated it did not like it
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.
Irene
Oct 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
So terribly sad & tragic, but documented well.
Robert Miller
Jun 01, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Barbara
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
Jay
Sep 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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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
Anita
Jun 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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Laurie
May 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Ariel Uppstrom
Jul 02, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Teri
Jun 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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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 #1 New York Times bestselling author, Olsen has written ten nonfiction books, ten novels, and contributed a short story to a collection edited by Lee Child.

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

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“the West Valley City police were still silent about the fact that it was Susan’s blood that they’d recovered from her house, and that she had left a note saying she was afraid her husband might kill her.” 1 likes
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