Isadore's Secret: Sin, Murder, and Confession in a Northern Michigan Town

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Overview

"In Isadore's Secret, Mardi Link shines a journalist's lamp on this dark, quiet corner of Michigan's history, assuring that the tragic story of Sister Janina is not forgotten. Link's telling is fascinating and thorough, making a story you will not soon forget."
---Steve Lehto, author of Death's Door

A gripping account of the mysterious 1907 disappearance of a young nun in a northern Michigan town and the national controversy that followed when she turned up dead and buried in the basement of her own church.

Swinging planks of lantern light shine through the musty air and onto the dirt floor of the church basement. The oddly glowing rectangles syncopate over the damp ground and illuminate even the darkest, stooped-down corners of the space beyond. The only sound is the ragged breathing of two men, a young parish priest and a much older laborer. Aboveground these men belong completely to this place, in both body and soul. A glimpse of their faces anywhere in the sanctuary, the rectory, the school, the barn, or the gardens would be a welcome sight. But here below, these men of Isadore are interlopers. Only trespassers would sneak silently into the church's sloped underbelly without witness to carry out such a sinful and secret errand as this one. Despite their tools, and their lantern, and their resolve, neither is equipped for the task at hand or for what is to come.

Mardi Link, a former crime reporter, was named Antioch's Betty Crumrine Scholar for Creative Nonfiction in 2007. Her first book, When Evil Came to Good Hart, also published by the University of Michigan Press, spent four months on the Heartland Indie Bestseller List.

This true story was the basis for the Broadway play The Runner Stumbles and the film of the same name.

Front cover: Photograph of cemetery © John L. Russell, Great Lakes Images; image of face ©iStockphoto.com/duncan1890.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"An astonishing story told with beautiful, lyrical prose that never overshadows the facts. Mardi Link's achievement with Isadore's Secret is nothing short of stellar."
—Gregg Olsen, New York Times bestselling author of Starvation Heights

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780472070794
  • Publisher: University of Michigan Press/Regional
  • Publication date: 9/28/2009
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

Prologue: A Grave 1

Lost Soul 4

Revelations 60

The Sinners 93

Purgatory 124

The Trial 152

Epilogue: Forgiven 217

Cast of Characters 235

Sources and Resources 241

Photographs following page 92

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