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Free Chapter from “The Search of the Golden Plates”

The Chase of the Golden Plates is a modern adaptation of a novel by Jacques Futrelle published in 1908 updating the story to 1933 and rewriting it in modern English and adding a new twist to the story. It begins:

Chapter 1 – It was THE Holiday event of 1933. Everyone who is anyone wanted to be there. Cardinal Richelieu and the Emperor of Japan stepped out on the balcony overlooking the entrance to Seven Oaks, lit their cigarettes and stood watching the party goers as they walked up the wide marble steps.

Here was an overweight Dowager Empress of China, there an Indian warrior in full war paint and feathered head dress and walking along behind him two giggling Geisha girls.

Next, wearing the robes of his rank, came the Czar of Russia.

The Emperor smiled.

“An old enemy of mine,” he remarked to the Cardinal.

A Shepherd girl in a wide-brimmed hat trimmed with flowers was helped out of a limo by Christopher Columbus and they came up the walk arm-in-arm, while a Mime in white face-paint ran beside them laughing in their faces. D’Artagnan, Athos, Aramis, and Porthos swaggered up next with their brassy, clanking swords.

“Ah!” exclaimed the Cardinal. “There are four gentlemen whom I know well.”

Mary Queen of Scots, Pocahontas, the Sultan of Turkey, and Jacob Marley were having a friendly chat when they entered. Behind them came a person who immediately got everyone’s attention. He was a Burglar, with a black flashlight in one hand and revolver in the other. A black mask covered his face, a droopy fedora shaded his eyes, and a set of burglar’s tools swung from one shoulder.

“Look at that would you” commented the Cardinal. “Now, that’s clever.”

“He looks like the real thing,” the Emperor added.

The Burglar stepped aside for a moment, allowing a diamond festooned Queen Elizabeth to walk by, then came up the steps. The Cardinal and the Emperor walked back into the reception-room to watch his arrival.

“Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth!” the stone-faced butler announced to the room.

The Burglar handed a card to the tuxedo clad Voice and noted, with obvious amusement, a momentary look of astonishment on the butler’s face. Maybe it was because the card had been given to him with the same hand which held the revolver. The Voice looked at the name on the card and breathed a deep sigh of relief.

“Bill, the Burglar!” he announced.

The crowd murmured in astonishment. And with curiosity. Quickly the Burglar became the center of attention, at least for a few minutes, causing the crowd around the ballroom to laugh, all be it quietly.

A clown came in next, jumping around behind him, which shifted the crowd’s attention, and the Burglar soon disappeared into the crowd.

To listen to or download Chapter 1 in its entirety, go to the Free Book / Story page

From the Desk of Dr. Whodunit….

What’s happening now and coming next…..

There’s a new posting on the Inficons website (www.inficons.com). It’s a short story about critiquing other writer’s work. I think you’ll find it interesting.

Next week I’ll be posting the first chapter of The Chase of the Golden Plates – both digital & audio – in the Free Book / Story section of this website. If you like it, you can purchase the book at a much more reasonable price than “that other company”.

I just submitted the final recording of The Grey Man – Changes to the author for approval. It should be available on Audible, Amazon, & iTunes in about 30 days. There are three more The Grey Man books in the queue. The plan is to have them all completed prior to Labor Day 2021.

Finally, I’ve started work on the first full length Gregg Maguire mystery, a “Whodunit” in the tradition of Ellery Queen and Nero Wolfe. I’ll let you know how it’s coming along.

An interesting tidbit about the life & death of Jacques Futrelle….

Jacques Futrelle, the author of the Chase of the Golden Plates, the Thinking Machine novel on which I based a modern adaptation of the same name died on April 15, 1912……a very famous date.

He was……From Wikipedia “Returning from Europe aboard the RMS Titanic, Futrelle, a first-class passenger, refused to board a lifeboat, insisting Lily (his wife) do so instead, to the point of forcing her in. She remembered the last she saw of him: he was smoking a cigarette on deck with John Jacob Astor IV. He perished in the Atlantic and his body was never found.”

The Mystery of Edgar Allan Poe’s Death

One of the most intriguing mysteries about Edgar Allan Poe Poe is how he died at the age of forty. Doing some research on the web, I found the following on the US National Park Service website:

Edgar Allan Poe is credited with writing the first modern detective story, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, in 1840. Most people know Poe from his horror stories i.e. The Pit and the Pendulum and The Fall of the House of Usher; and his poetry, most notably The Raven and Annabel Lee. No subject regarding Edgar Allan Poe ignites as much controversy as his sudden death at the age of forty, which remains shrouded in mystery.

What we know is that Poe planned a trip from Richmond, Virginia, to New York City, during which he traveled by steamer and stopped in Baltimore on September 28, 1849. His actions and whereabouts throughout the next five days are uncertain.

Was Alcohol Involved?

On October 3, 1849, printer Joseph Walker found Poe inside or near Gunner’s Hall tavern, and sent a note for J.E. Snodgrass, one of Poe’s acquaintances in Baltimore. Walker described Poe as appearing in “great distress.”

Snodgrass noted that the clothes Poe wore looked disheveled and out of place: “he had evidently been robbed of his [own] clothing or cheated in an exchange.” Snodgrass and his uncle, Henry Herring, both presumed that Poe was in a drunken state and agreed to send him to Washington College Hospital. Once there, Poe was taken to a room reserved for patients who were ill due to intoxication.

Poe lapsed in and out of consciousness for the next few days, and according to Dr. John J. Moran, who questioned Poe about his condition, Poe’s answers were incoherent and unsatisfactory. Moran also prevented visitors due to Poe’s “excitable” condition.

Moran later noted in a letter to Maria Clemm, Poe’s mother-in-law, that during a period of consciousness, Poe held “vacant converse with spectral and imaginary objects on the walls. His face was pale and his whole person drenched in perspiration.” Poe died quietly before sunrise on Sunday, October 7, 1849.

It may be logical to assume that alcohol played a role in Poe’s death, given that it intermittently surfaced as a negative influence during his adult life. But how does it explain why Poe was wearing somebody else’s clothes? Nor does it provide any insight into the circumstances that caused him to be found in such an unfortunate state.

Was Poe a Victim of Cooping?

One of the most popular theories about Poe’s death stems from the fact that Poe was found on Election Day, and Gunner’s Hall was a polling location. It is possible that on that day, Poe fell victim to cooping, a common method of voter fraud in the 19th century. Cooping victims were kidnapped, drugged or forced to drink, and disguised several times in order to cast several votes. Others have suggested that perhaps Poe was beaten and robbed, or even that he contracted rabies.

Theories abound about Poe’s death, but there has yet to be one that proves definitive—a fittingly mysterious end for the master of mystery.

#GoldenAgeofDetectiveFiction #DrWhodunit #EdgarAllanPoe

The Dr. Whodunit site is live.

At long last, the site, www.markbielecki.com (aka Dr. Whodunit) is live with the posting of two audiobooks – The Chase of the Golden Plates and Pugh & Tress Times Two. It’s been a year of hard work to get to today.

The Chase of the Golden Plates is a modern retelling of the Jacques Futrelle novel of the same name originally published in 1906. It’s been updated to 1933 in modern English and we’ve thrown in a new twist – A Challenge to the Armchair Detective. It’s about a burglary that took place at a masquerade ball. It introduces the reader / listener to Professor A.S.F.X Van Dusen, otherwise known as The Thinking Machine. It’s a “whodunit” in the style of some of the great authors of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction.

Pugh & Tress Times Two is a pair of short stories about two of old friends who are rival collectors of curious objects. The original stories were written by Richard Marsh and were published in 1898 and have also been updated into modern English. The Pugh & Tress stories prove that not every mystery involves a crime.

Our plan for the site is to bring The Golden Age of Detective Fiction back for the listener’s enjoyment at very reasonable prices in comparison to the average audiobook. To learn more about where we’re going and what we’re doing, go to What’s It All About.

Enjoy!

Mark Bielecki aka Dr. Whodunit

Mystery Surrounds Two Famous Detectives

We’ve all heard of Sherlock Holmes and many of us have read the stories. You may or may not have heard of Nero Wolfe, a fictional detective who lives in Manhattan, raises orchids, is a gourmand and weighs over 300 pounds. And – he rarely leaves his home for any reason and never leaves it on business. It’s speculated in the “Whodunit” community that Nero Wolfe is the illegitimate son of Sherlock Holmes and the love of his life, Irene Adler.  From the Nero Wolfe entry on Wikipedia “In 1956, John D. Clark theorized in an article in The Baker Street Journal that Wolfe was the offspring of an affair between Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler (a character from “A Scandal in Bohemia”). Clark suggested that the two had an affair in Montenegro in 1892, and that Nero Wolfe was the result.” True? Not true? Who knows……

#DrWhodunit #SherlockHolmes #NeroWolfe #IreneAdler

New Whodunit released in April 2021

The Chase of the Golden Plates has been released in eBook (PDF) and Audiobook (MP3) format effective April 30. It’s a classic Whodunit involving a masquerade ball, a Burglar, a Cowgirl and $50,000 of missing gold dinner plates. It take all the ingenuity and deductive power of Professor A.S.F.X Van Dusen, The Thinking Machine to unravel the mystery and reveal the actual thief. It’s a whodunit in the tradition of Ellery Queen.

It’s available on this website along with Pugh & Tress Times Two at exceptionally reasonable prices. Go to the Audiobooks & eBooks page for more information and to purchase.

New Audiobook Released April 7, 2021

It’s entitled The Wall: Chronicle of a Scuba Trial by Dr. Lawrence Martin.A young woman is lost on a scuba dive in Grand Cayman. Did she suffer nitrogen narcosis? Or did she commit suicide? Experts argue both scenarios in a civil trial that takes place 14 months later. Her parents are the plaintiffs. The defendants are a large corporation and its dive master on that fateful day. There are several experts called to testify, including the author. The two lawyers object to each other’s arguments, cite precedent, drill their experts. Yet one thing is missing: her body. It will never be recovered.

The Wall is fiction but it reads like a real case. Put yourself in the jury box, listen to the experts and lawyers battle it out, then make your decision along with the jury. How will you decide? For the plaintiffs or the defense?

#DrWhodunit #scubadiving #courtroomdrama