Tag Archives: Mark Bielecki

A Matter of Timing – A Gregg Maguire Short Story by Mark Bielecki

It was a sunny Saturday morning. The birds were singing, the flowers blooming and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. A perfect day to go to the beach, take in a ball game or just go for a walk in the woods. So naturally I was sitting at my desk at State Police headquarters in Lansing catching up on the paperwork I’d been putting off all week. My name is Gregg Maguire. I’m a Captain in the Michigan State Police, in charge of the Special Investigations Division.

Around 8:30 the phone rang which was unusual for a Saturday morning.. The call was from Harvey Clement, Sheriff of Montcalm county. I’d talked with Harvey off-and-on over the last couple of years, after we’d met at a police training seminar and had dinner together. I’d told him that if he ever ran across a ‘puzzler’ of a case, to give me a call.

He runs a small department out of his office in Stanton, which is a small town about 50 miles Northwest of Lansing. The Montcalm County detective squad covers 705 square miles and is stretched pretty thin working on a wide variety of cases from auto theft to drug violations. He said he had a case where a man had died and he thought that the circumstances were suspicious. He told me that none of his detectives had experience with this type of death and asked me to drive over and take a look at it.

When I got there, Sheriff Clement took me to a hunting cabin on First Lake, which is the first in a chain of lakes in the aptly named Six Lakes area. We met with a man named Louis Yeager, owner of the cabin where the person had died.

Yeager had been a friend of Sheriff Clement for years. Clement told me that they’d worked together on charity functions around the county and that Yeager was always very supportive of his department.

The dead man’s name was Fred Fortin. He & Yeager were partners in a chain of retail sporting goods stores in the Grand Rapids area.

Yeager was extremely upset. He told us that Fortin was his closest friend and they’d been business partners since the early 1980’s. He said that they’d started in a cubby hole sized space in East Grand Rapids, which had grown to three locations throughout Kent County. The stores specialized in high-end outdoor sporting apparel, fishing tackle, and hunting equipment.

I asked him to tell me exactly what had happened. He started speaking, slowly at first and said “Our business did well early on. We had a couple of premium apparel lines that no one else in town had. Lately, sales were down because the internet offered the same brands at lower prices. Fred had become very depressed. We’d both invested everything we had in the stores, so if the business failed, we would both be on the brink of bankruptcy. It was so bad that Fred even talked about committing suicide.”

He took a deep breath and continued. “I was worried about him and suggested we come up here to my cabin. I thought the fresh air, exercise, and some fishing would do him good. Help snap him out of his funk, you know. We’d been here about three days and he seemed to be improving. He wasn’t as glum as he’d been and his appetite was getting better. He wanted to have a fish-fry, complete with coleslaw and hush puppies. His ‘can do’ attitude was coming back and I thought he’d turned a corner and was ready to take on the challenges again”

“Thursday morning we decided to go fishing at a trout stream that empties into the lake. We didn’t catch anything and after a couple of hours, he said he was going to try a stream about a half mile away. I thought that was a good idea and said I was going to try a different stream, kind of in the opposite direction. We joked that if we couldn’t catch the fish, at least we’d have them surrounded. We agreed we’d meet back at the cabin around lunchtime.”

“Well, my luck changed at my new fishing spot. I’d caught my limit by 11 o’clock and started back to the cabin. As I was getting nearer the cabin, I started to sense that there was trouble ahead. Something just felt wrong and I ran the rest of the way back. When I opened the door, I saw him. It was the most horrible thing I’ve ever seen. He was sitting at the table with white foam coming out of his mouth. His face was hideously contorted, like he was in incredible pain.”

He buried his face in his hands. “That sight will haunt me forever. I’d got there not five minutes after he did and there he was – dead. Why couldn’t I have been just a few minutes earlier?”

“What else did you notice?” I asked him.

“There was a bottle of Irish whiskey on the table and a glass. Both the glass and the bottle smelled of bitter almonds and I’d seen on TV that cyanide smells like that. It made me think that it was cyanide that he took. I thought he was getting better, that he was on his way back to being his old self again. Turns out I was wrong. He’d killed himself after all!”

I then asked “Have you had any visitors to the cabin?”

“No, not since we’ve been here” Yeager replied.

“Was Fortin a smoker?”


“How were his drinking habits? Was he a heavy drinker?”

“No. He’d have a couple of glasses of Bushmills at the end of the day, but nothing excessive.”

“What about doors and windows? Were they open or closed?”

“They were all closed. Why?”

“No particular reason. Just being thorough.” I replied.

“Sheriff, let’s take a look around outside. Maybe we can find something out there”.

When we were safely outside and out of Yeager’s earshot, I turned to Sheriff Clement.

“Harvey, I know this is going to be tough for you, especially since Yeager is a friend of yours. You need to detain him as a ‘person of interest’ in the murder of Fred Fortin.”

Sheriff Clement looked aghast! “Why?” he said.

“He’s lying. He said he got back to the cabin not five minutes after Fortin did. There’s no way for him to know when Fortin returned to the cabin. I also doubt that Fortin had talked about suicide with his business partner. If you look into it, I don’t think you’ll find anyone else that Fortin talked about suicide with. Finally, take a look at their partnership agreement. I’ll bet you’ll find that in the event of a partner’s death, the surviving partner becomes the sole owner of the business. I think this is plain, old fashioned murder for profit.”

I returned to Lansing and my day-to-day duties. I spoke with Harvey again about two weeks later. Turns out I was right. The detectives hadn’t found anyone that Fred Fortin had discussed suicide with. They also got a copy of the partnership agreement which did make the surviving partner the sole owner of the business in the event of a partner’s death.

The business was actually doing quite well – sales were not down because of the internet. Profits had gone down because Yeager was skimming them into a private account using phony purchase orders to a non-existent clothing supplier. It appears that Fortin was on the cusp of discovering Yeager’s embezzling and Yeager knew his theft would soon be exposed. He murdered Fortin in an attempt to cover it up.

When the detectives confronted Yeager with the evidence, he broke down and confessed. He pled guilty to murder in the second degree with a sentence of twenty-five years to life to avoid getting life without possibility of parole.

Would you like a .PDF of this story? It’s available free – No credit card required here.

#DrWhodunit #MarkBielecki #GreggMaguire #GoldenAgeofDetectiveFiction #Whodunit

Does every mystery story have to involve a crime?

There are literally thousands of mysteries, thrillers, and techno-thrillers on the market today. By far, most involve a crime, most notably murder. There are some that add treason, kidnapping and theft to the mix. Most of the time, A killed B and we want to find out who A is and why they did it. Does it have to be that way. Dr. Whodunit says “Not always”.

Here’s an example. On the Dr. Whodunit website a book entitled “Pugh & Tress Times Two” details two mysteries that are not crimes, but quite interesting none the less. Pugh & Tress are “Collectors” of interesting things – and the mysteries surrounding them. In “The Box”, Tress unravels the mystery of an un-openable box. In “The Pipe” decipher the mystery of a craft pipe which seems to have unusual powers. The package comes with both .pdf and AudioBook files. Take a minute  and check it out.

#DrWhodunit #ThePuzzle #ThePipe #PughandTress #MarkBielecki

A More Modern Whodunit

The Golden Age of Whodunits was between 1840 & 1941. Have there been any since then? Yes, but not too many.

One of my favorites is The Burglar series by Lawrence Block. The main character is Bernard Grimes Rhodenbarr – Bernie – who is ostensibly a bookstore owner in Manhattan. That’s his avocation – his hobby if you will. His vocation is Burglary. Nothing thrills Bernie more than being in someone else’s home helping himself to the valuables.

Of course, things don’t always go smoothly, bad things happen and Bernie gets blamed for it, even though he didn’t do it. It’s up to Bernie to solve the mystery and clear his name – again.

With strong supporting characters – Carolyn Keiser, his best friend and dog walker and NYPD Detective Ray Kirschmann – the best detective money can buy – The stories are extremely enjoyable. What’s even better – they are available free at many public libraries. Enjoy!

#DrWhodunit #MarkBielecki #TheBurglarseries #LawrenceBlock #BernieRhodenbarr

The Grey Man – Changes is now available in Audiobook!

The next installment in The Grey Man series (#3) is now available in audiobook on Amazon and Audible.

The latest story in the saga of the Cronin Family brings together the changes that happened to John Cronin (The Grey Man), his granddaughter Jesse and here husband, Marine Sergeant Aaron Miller after Jesse and Aaron’s wedding.

When Texas Deputy Sheriff John Cronin thwarts the Cartel’s plan to get paid to smuggle Muslims across the border, he becomes the target of the Cartel once again. One try fails, but the cartel isn’t about to give up. With his granddaughter, Jesse, still recovering from her last run-in with the Cartel and now far away with her Marine husband on a military base, Cronin only has to worry about the innocents around him. Sergeant Miller is deployed to Afghanistan. War is Hell.

One way or another, this old school law man plans to end this cat and mouse game for good. But, this time, the Cartel is playing for keeps; ending this war might just cost the old man his life.

Either way Cronin plans to go out on his feet, fighting tooth and nail.

#DrWhodunit #MarkBielecki #TheGreyMan # JohnCronin #JLCurtis

Free Chapter from “The Chase 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

#DrWhodunit #MarkBielecki #TheThinkingMachine #ChaseoftheGoldenPlates

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.

#DrWhodunit #MarkBielecki #Inficons #TheGreyMan #GreggMaguire

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.”

#Dr. Whodunit #Mark Bielecki #Jacques Futrelle #Titanic #John Jacob Astor #The Chase of the Golden Plates

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 #MarkBielecki #Cooping