About Me

My photo
Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Monday, August 27, 2012

“O” is for Gregg Olsen

In looking at my list of “O” mystery authors read in the past 12 years my total was 1 – Gregg Olsen. For this week’s entry at “O” in the Alphabet in Crime Fiction meme hosted by Kerrie Smith at her blog, Mysteries in Paradise, he becomes my entry.

His website provides the following description of Olsen:

Olsen, a Seattle native, lives in Olalla, Washington with his wife, twin daughters, three chickens, Milo (an obedience school dropout cocker spaniel) and Suri (a mini dachshund so spoiled she wears a sweater).

Wikipedia adds:

Gregg Olsen (born March 5, 1959, in Seattle, Wash.) is a New York Times and a USA Today bestselling author of eight nonfiction books and six novels, most of which are crime-related. The subjects of his true books include convicted child rapist and school teacher Mary Kay Letourneau, product tampering killer Stella Nickell, fasting specialist Linda Burfield Hazzard, and former Amishman and convicted murderer Eli Stutzman.

I found intriguing the number of non-fiction crime biographies he has written.

While I have not read the book Starvation Heights, his book on Hazzard must have been of particular interest to Olsen as Hazzard had a "sanitarium” in Olalla called Wilderness Heights but Starvation Heights by local residents. His website note on the book says:

In 1911, Claire and Dora Williamson traveled to Dr. Linda Hazzard's Institute of Natural Therapeutics near Seattle, Washington. There, instead of receiving medical attention, the wealthy sisters were tortured, starved, and robbed of their inheritance. Dora escaped, but Claire was not so lucky. In detail, the author recreates the shocking 1912 trial of Dr. Hazzard for the murder of the beloved sister.

I found a question and answer with the author at the sandrablabber blog very interesting:

If a notorious criminal was going to write your biography, who would you want to write about you and why?
Gregg: This is an interesting question, Sandra. Living or dead’ I suppose if I wanted to have it be well written, I’d choose Jean Harris, after all she was a headmistress before she shot Dr. Herman Tarnower of Scarsdale Diet fame. She probably knew her way around words and I’ll bet she was a very neat typist. If I wanted to disappear into the text I’d have a narcissist like Scott Peterson write the book because I’d be merely a footnote in my own story. Yet, if the goal is a bestseller, I’d like to suggest Ted Bundy. Everyone loves a sexy author with a killer smile. He’d be booked on every show. I’d be famous for a book I didn’t have to write.

In 2007 I read his mystery, A Wicked Snow. In my review I said:

It is a fascinating portrayal of the life of the child of a serial killer. How do you understand why your parent is a killer? It is truly a journey into the heart of darkness.

It was a chilling book.


  1. Bill - Thanks for this background information on Olsen. It's interesting that he has such deep knowledge about true crime. Some of the things that have really happened are stranger and more horrific what a lot of fiction authors write...

  2. Interesting writer. I do want to read his book about the parent serial killer. Thanks for the introduction.

  3. Fascinating post, Bill. I don't think I've heard of this author before. I am not a reader of serial killer books but his fiction work sounds as if it is an original treatment, so I will take a look. Thanks again.

  4. I know I've heard about the book on Hazzard's Institute before....but I can't' think where. Now you've got me all interested again...may have to check this out.

    Here's my Letter O.

  5. I have to have the book on the Hazzard case! Olsen seems to be an interesting fella I will look for his books. Thanks Bill!

  6. Margot: Thanks for the comment. A mystery writer describing a treatment home as "Starvation Heights" would probably be considered overdramatic.

  7. Clarissa: Thanks for the comment. I hope you find Olsen interesting.

  8. Maxine: Thanks for the comment. A Wicked Snow had a spooky shivery feel to the book.

  9. Bev: Thanks for commenting. I hope you read it. I doubt I will read it. The story, though certainly true, sounds so outlandish.

  10. Peggy Ann: Thanks for the comment. I do hope you read it and post a review. I would be interested in reading a review though I am not interested in reading the book.

  11. Scott: Thanks for the comment. I hope you read Olsen.