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In this page-turning true-life whodunit, author Mardi Link looks into the cold-case files of the murders of a wealthy Detroit-area family in their northern Michigan cabin in 1968, detailing and reviewing all the evidence to date. She crafts her book around police and court documents and historical and present-day statements and interviews, in addition to exploring the impact of the case on the community of Good Hart and the stigma that surrounds the popular summer getaway. Adding to both the sense of tragic history and the suspense, Link laces her tale with fascinating bits of local and Indian lore, while dozens of colorful characters enter and leave the story, spicing the narrative.
During the years of investigation of the murders, officials considered hundreds of tips and leads as well as dozens of sources, among them former secretaries who worked for murder victim Dick Robison; Robison's business associates; John Norman Collins, perpetrator of the "Co-Ed Murders" that took place in Washtenaw County between 1967 and 1969; and an inmate in federal prison in Leavenworth, Kansas, who said he knew who killed the Robison family. Despite the exhaustive investigative efforts of numerous individuals, decades later the case lies tantalizingly out of reach as an unsolved cold case.
This edition, published at the 50th anniversary of the murder, includes a new Afterword by Mardi Link. In it, Link discusses information that’s come to light since the book’s original publication and reflects on how the Robison murders might have been handled differently today.
About the Author
Mardi Link is a journalist; a former police reporter; and the author of several titles, including two other true crime books, Isadore’s Secret: Sin, Murder, and Confession in a Northern Michigan Town and Wicked Takes the Witness Stand: A Tale of Murder and Twisted Deceit in Northern Michigan.
“What makes this book more than the sum of its parts is Link's exploration of the nature of evil and her comments on loss of innocence—her own, the town's, the era's. Her descriptions vary from melodic and wistful to hard hitting, a combination that keeps the pages turning fast.”
"The murder mystery that has confounded and fascinated people for over forty years had been given a whole new life. When Evil Came to Good Hart is a well-researched and well-written piece of nonfiction that holds the reader in its spell, just as the mystery has the many writers, reporters, and law officers who have puzzled over it. My highest praise: it reads like a good novel, a real page-turner."
—Judith Guest, author of Ordinary People and The Tarnished Eye
“There is an intemporal quality to Good Hart, the kind born of ancient rocks, mature mixed forests, enduring Ottawa legends, and the turquoise waters of Little Traverse Bay. Hovering over this paradise is the dark chapter in the village's past that locals still don't care to talk about: the massacre of six members of the Robison family in the summer of 1968. In the first nonfiction book about this baffling crime, Link offers up a balanced and absorbing account of this mystery . . . leaving readers wanting more from this very talented writer.”
—Richard Bak, Hour Detroit
“A balanced and absorbing account of this mystery, allowing readers to form their own opinions and leaving them wanting more. . . . [and] a stellar example of how a mystery, when well presented, can be even more compelling than one that's been solved.”
“Link deftly explores a number of bogus leads and confessions, making interviews, sifting through documented evidence and police reports. . . the case is still officially unsolved, but Link offers fascinating insights into the multiple homicide.”
—Lansing State Journal
"The murder mystery that has confounded and fascinated people for over forty years has been given a whole new life. When Evil Came to Good Hart is a well-researched and well-written piece of non-fiction that holds the reader in its spell, just as it has the many writers, reporters, and law officers who have puzzled over it. My highest praise for Mardi Link's book is to say that it reads like a good novel, a real page-turner."
— Judith Guest
"A balanced and absorbing account of this mystery, allowing readers to form their own opinions and leaving them wanting more. . . . [and] a stellar example of how a mystery, when well presented, can be even more compelling than one that's been solved."
"An inherently fascinating read from cover to cover, When Evil Came to Good Hart is especially and unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library True Crime collections."
--Midwest Book Review
— Midwest Book Review