Why do we write, and read, true crime books? The genre churns out new releases every month. There are scholarly true crime books, bestsellers, mass-market paperbacks and even some award winners; the category has a loyal following. People who read true crime books read a lot of them.
-Author Mardi Link
Journalist Mardi Link was curious about an unsolved mass murder in northern Michigan ever since she first heard of the case on the radio when she was seven years old.
But decades later, when she began research for a true crime account about the Robison family murders, she found that the pointed questions were being directed toward her, the author.
In a Publishers Weekly essay that came out this week, the author remarks, "I had naively thought people would want to know the specifics I'd uncovered about the evidence and not my motivations for writing about the case."
And yet the genre's critics are relentless. If not dogging authors during their research, they dog them afterwards.
As it turns out, a lot of people do want to know the specifics of one of the most notorious mass murders in Michigan history. Mardi Link's book, When Evil Came to Good Hart (see the CLEWS review), has now become the bestselling book on this site. For a couple of years, that honor (such as it is) belonged to The Good-Bye Door by Diana Britt Franklin (see the CLEWS interview with the author). Now, many dozens of visitors to CLEWS have purchased When Evil Came to Good Hart via this site, more than any other book ever mentioned anywhere here.
And she's writing another book as well. Mardi's second true crime story will be 100 Witnesses of Isadore, and it will concern the murder of a Catholic nun in northern Michigan generations ago (see the CLEWS page on the case of Sister Mary Janina).
Meanwhile, Mardi Link has some upcoming appearances for those lucky enough to be close by. She'll be at the Mackinaw City Library on Feb. 4 and at Saturn Booksellers in Gaylord on Feb. 7. Later this spring, she'll appear at a forum on the Robison case at the Petoskey Library on Monday, May 18. Her website has details. I bet she's well prepared for whatever questions are hurled her way.