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Summary

A gripping account of the mysterious 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 the church.

Says New York Times best-selling true crime author Gregg Olsen: "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." This true story was the basis for the Broadway play, The Runner Stumbles, and the movie of the same name. In 1907, a Felician nun disappeared from her rural convent. When her bones were found buried in the dirt-floored basement of the remote, Gothic church she served, it caused a national sensation. Who killed her? The handsome priest? The jealous housekeeper? And, what other secret was uncovered along with her bones?

©2009 Mardi Link (P)2016 Mardi Jo Link

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Douglas
  • 05-07-16

Rich, Lyrical Prose...

Link proves not only a thorough researcher in this elegant piece of true crime literature but also a considerably graceful writer as well. The murder of a nun, suspicions of sex, jealousy and corruption. A complex and complicated tale told masterfully by this accomplished writer.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • night owl
  • 29-11-16

Better than most

Had to give this 5stars , even though I became bored with some of the repetition of characters stories.It's so much better than a lot of true crime. The writing is straightforward and clear. One is introduced to the time and place as well as the people of the area, without drawn out descriptions.My credit was well spent on this one.Very interesting story.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • oatie
  • 08-09-16

secrets of a little rural church

loved this story of betrayal broken vows cover up did she do it did she cover for some one . did she change after conviction.. the church has been caught in other cover ups

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Luvs2read
  • 23-08-16

Great read. Educational and intriguing.

This is a "page turner". I plan to buy it in print. I'm not a true crime reader, but I found this case interesting, so I thought I'd give this book a try. I mostly read fiction, but this book definitely opened my mind to the true crime non fiction genre. This book details so much more than just the murder and trial. It paints a picture of how this case was received by the early 20th century public, press, church, and people directly involved with it. It shows how this mystery effected an entire community, and how they moved forward after it concluded. It examines the victim and people involved with the victim, crime, investigation and trial as flesh and blood human beings, and not caricatures of a sensational tabloid worthy story. I am not from Michigan, and I don't know much about early 1900's Michigan, but this book did not just suffice my curiosity, it was also very educational. I saw this case on Deadly Women, and it peaked my interest, so I googled it and found this book. I am so glad I did. I love that show, but this book really makes the Deadly Women retelling look like an amateur YouTube documentary with terrible lighting and bad camera angles.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • akinco
  • 24-07-16

Like a Christie cozy in an English village & true

like a Christie cozy but it's true. well crafted mystery, we'll told, and interesting to the end.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Cynthia
  • 09-04-17

Story stretched out

Story okay but I struggled to pay attention at times due to the sheer amount of repetition of the facts presented in the story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Margie
  • 11-07-16

Im a Michiganer

What made the experience of listening to Isadore's Secret the most enjoyable?

That it was true crime in my native state.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Isadora of course

What does Anne Jacques bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

At first I wasn't to sure I wanted to listen to the book because it seemed slow but once it drew me in I could tell her voice was right for the story.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

When the nuns encircled Isadora's bones, very moving for me and I am not Catholic but I am a Christian. I found their love towards their sister very moving and Godly.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Carolina
  • 18-10-16

Do Not Judge A "Book" By Its Crap Cover

Beautifully written and researched. If it was done any other way this story might of dull.

I mean it's about old timey Catholics, but the way the author weaves in personal letter and descriptions frames each participation in a fascinating light.

She even managed to make the details about Catholic laws and rituals interesting.

On par with Starvation Heights

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Michelle
  • 16-03-18

Fairly interesting, but terrible narrator

Would you try another book from Mardi Link and/or Anne Jacques?

No. this is the second Mardi Link book I have listened to and I wasn't impressed with either one. Anne Jacques was a terrible narrator, definitely will not listen to her again.

Would you be willing to try another one of Anne Jacques’s performances?

Absolutely not. She was terrible. Her cadence was bad. She mispronounced words and town names, sometimes I couldn't figure out what she meant.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The story itself was interesting but it felt like there was no real definite conclusion. Maybe that was just the nature of the case. Not sure the person who was found guilty was actually guilty. She didn't really build a case for guilt.

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  • Buretto
  • 17-02-18

Just kind of withers away

Is there anything you would change about this book?

It starts off quite well, and it seems like there would be a compelling mystery. However, that promise never really pays off. So, a better story, I suppose. I wanted there to be a story, it just didn't pan out.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

It became clear, about the same time that my interest in the events of the story waned, that a major motivation of the author was to be an institutional apologist. Several of the indiscretions of those in positions of power are detailed, but rather uncomfortably minimized and ultimately dismissed. Of particular discomfort are the casual mentions (the historical significance of which is entirely ignored) of the repeated and frequent "reassignments" of the Holy Rosary priests in the 1910's and 1920's. I recognize that is not the focus of the book, but that context certainly is teased as part of the mystery in the summary, and deserved a bit more (or any) acknowledgement of the grander scale.

What aspect of Anne Jacques’s performance would you have changed?

The performance was reasonably good, though there were times the narrator seemed to give a bit more flourish than was strictly necessary.

Was Isadore's Secret worth the listening time?

For two-thirds of the time I would have responded with a tentative yes. But as it became clear that there wouldn't be any swerves, but merely a rather bland courtroom story, the last third has to override that to make the final answer, no.

Any additional comments?

The story is stretched out much longer than it deserves. As other reviewers have noted, there are repetitions of accounts, first in the author's narrative, then later almost verbatim recitations of court depositions. A lot was just unnecessary.