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Whodunit?
April 11, 2013 3:06 PM   Subscribe

Greg Fleniken was a decent, honorable, smart, and successful man whom people liked. The sort of man nobody would murder—yet somebody had. But why? And how had The Body in Room 348 received its internal injuries?

Further reading: Detective Ken Brennan on How to Crack a Cold Case.

By the same author, Mark Bowden: The Case of the Vanishing Blonde (Previously)
posted by zarq (35 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
The story is thus far engaging but...

He is all cop. His wife had been a cop; he met her on the job. He was one of the assault-team leaders on the department’s SWAT team. He is one of those men who never stop working.

PICK A TENSE.

Technically you can unravel all that to work, but for starters "he was one of the..." is an unnecessarily confusing construction.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:22 PM on April 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


This was interesting until it wasn't. If the M.E. had been a little more observant and thoughtful, this wouldn't have been a mystery at all.

Also, did I miss the explanation for how/when the bullet exit hole in the adjoining wall between 348 and 349 was repaired before the police examined the room? If Greg was shot as explained, wouldn't the police have seen the bullet hole by the door before it was repaired? The toothpaste repair was only on the shooter's side, right?
posted by LooseFilter at 3:23 PM on April 11, 2013


This is why editors are so important.
posted by boo_radley at 3:48 PM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


The hole in the wall almost but not quite matched where the door handle would hit. Since there was no reason to think about firearms at that point I'm sure it was noted and ignored.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:49 PM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Great story.

I disagree with you about the tenses, Tell Me No Lies: if you made them all the same, you'd have to make the passage longer to convey the same information, and that could mar the elegant density which now obtains-- and it reads perfectly naturally to me.
posted by jamjam at 3:55 PM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


He still never stops working, he is still all cop, but is no longer a leader of the SWAT team, and he met his wife in the past. What's the problem?
posted by thelonius at 3:59 PM on April 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


TimeCop stops for no, gets his, man.
posted by zippy at 4:03 PM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Where's the elegant density? I'm with Tell Me No Lies. It reads clumsily even if it's not strictly ungrammatical. You could convey the same information in fewer words, in fact, and make the whole thing less confusing AND fit better with the stylised tone he's going for by omitting one or two of the main verbs altogether, thus solving the tense problem.
posted by tigrefacile at 4:10 PM on April 11, 2013


If this were a TV show ("BRENNAN!"), this would be the lackluster second episode following an incredible pilot. It reminds me of when the guy who wrote Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil went on to uncover that snoozer of a story in Venice.
posted by Mapes at 5:09 PM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


He is all cop. His left arm is a cop; his right arm is also a cop. His hair was a cop, until it fell out. Now his shiny bald head is a cop. He is one of those men who never stops being a cop. His sperm will be a cop, but for now it is just a drop in a cup. Even his crap would be a cop, if he gave a crap, which he doesn't, because he doesn't have time for this crap, because he's a cop.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:11 PM on April 11, 2013 [37 favorites]


Amazing they found cigarette in his hand. With his dying breath he didn't call for help,he took one last sweet sweet drag then lay down cradling his beloved parliament light.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:12 PM on April 11, 2013


He is all cop. His left arm is a cop

With all the cursing I am imagining an older Sgt. Dignam from The Departed. "Maybe yes, maybe no, maybe fuck yourself"
posted by Ad hominem at 5:15 PM on April 11, 2013


Should we rename this "The Case of the Missing Editor"?
posted by humanfont at 5:20 PM on April 11, 2013


He is all copy editor. His wife had been a copy editor; he met her on the job. He was one of the leaders on the department’s STET team. He is one of those men who never stop working.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:26 PM on April 11, 2013 [12 favorites]


Anyway. It's good that this moron got convicted for this. There is no one worse than a drunk who thinks it's cool to take out his guns and play with them; people die that way all the time.
posted by thelonius at 5:40 PM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


With his dying breath he didn't call for help,he took one last sweet sweet drag then lay down cradling his beloved parliament light.

Actually, no, he was lying on the bed relaxing, smoking and watching a movie. A bullet comes through the wall, enters his body through his scrotum and plows up his abdomen to his heart. He had no idea what the hell happened, but had enough time to get up and stagger toward the door a few steps. (Brennan figured he was heading for the door of the room, as he switched the cig from right hand to left.)

And seriously, glad to hear the shooter got at least a decade behind bars. It was bad enough that he was a drunk jackass playing with a loaded gun in a hotel, AND that the gun was discharged. That's plenty stupid. But what is really reprehensible was that he just ran like a little kid and tried to pretend it never happened even when he saw a body being wheeled out of the room the next morning. I don't know that anything could have saved Fleniken's life, but how do you not try??? Profoundly selfish.
posted by LooseFilter at 5:49 PM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Brennan figured he was heading for the door of the room, as he switched the cig from right hand to left.)

Don't get me wrong, I ain't knocking the guy, I smoke too. I was just waxing rhapsodic about a dying man and his cigarette.

He took the effort to actually switch it to his left hand. I'm a righty and I been smoking for many years. You know how I switch to my left hand if I need to for some reason? Put it between my lips with my right, take a drag, hold it with my lips and take it out with my left.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:47 PM on April 11, 2013


I'm always amused by writers' tics. I'm not quite halfway in and amused that he thinks we need to know how every single person combs their hair.
posted by not that girl at 7:42 PM on April 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Just watch out for writers' lyme disease.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:02 PM on April 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


I may be slow on the uptake - but where's the bullet? Presumably it's in the heart: but Bowden omits this final detail.
posted by raygirvan at 8:17 PM on April 11, 2013


I may be slow on the uptake - but where's the bullet? Presumably it's in the heart: but Bowden omits this final detail.

He touched on it when he mentioned that the cremation would have been hot enough to destroy metal fragments. If the ME was already convinced that he was beaten to death, he presumably would not have been looking for a bullet.
posted by mtyn at 8:26 PM on April 11, 2013


The skin of the scrotum was soft and pliable, and it had folded over the entry wound ...

I am not soft and pliable, but after reading this I too am folded over.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:48 PM on April 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


How does the wife believe she brought the killer to justice?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:06 AM on April 12, 2013


Christ, what a story.

Fucking guns -
posted by From Bklyn at 1:14 AM on April 12, 2013


Oh, I guess this is one of those threads where we complain that magazine style is not AP stylebook style. *sigh* I swear some of you won't be satisfied until you can upload only the facts of a case via QR Code.

Brennan’s anger can fill a room.

See, right there. That's awesome. Style matters.

“We’re going to look for a bullet.”

Which should, if you're lucky, remind you of this timeless classic scene from The Wire.
I swear, I would watch the Jimmy & Bunk spinoff show if it ran for ten years.

Also, from the internal injuries, and the attention to the scrotum (see! those writer's tics can be useful!), I was immediately thinking of Niven's The Hole Man, so I wasn't really surprised by how it all turned out.

PeterMcDermott, if she had not hired Brennan none of this would have been discovered. The crime being solved was a work for hire. Consider that she owns the IP.

Finally ... goddamn guns. So common that "accidental gunshot" is a too-much-paperwork-to-process crime in Texas. Goddamn guns.
posted by dhartung at 1:24 AM on April 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Although it wasn't as spectacular as the previous article, I loved the mystery aspect of this. The rushed ME, the offhand remark that lead to a theory, the way the pieces all came together. Excellent!

It would've felt right at home in an Agatha Christie novel.
posted by Georgina at 3:03 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


How does the wife believe she brought the killer to justice?

By hiring the private eye.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:02 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


They had been drinking beer. Mueller asked Pasano to fetch a bottle of whiskey from his car, and to also bring up his pistol, a 9-mm. Ruger. When Pasano returned, Mueller took out the handgun and, to the others’ alarm, started playing with it. He pointed it at Steinmetz, who dropped to the floor and cursed at him, and he was pointing it in Pasano’s direction, at the foot of the bed, when it went off. Pasano thought for a second that he had been hit, but then turned to see a hole in the wall behind him.


There's your well-regulated militia.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 7:33 AM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wouldn't there have been at least some blood from the gunshot wound? Like, on the bed or something? Did I miss a mention of that in the article?
posted by sarcasticah at 7:41 AM on April 12, 2013


Sarcasticah, it's here: There was a wet spot at the crotch of his blue pajamas, but that wasn’t unusual.
posted by rory at 8:34 AM on April 12, 2013


The article also says there was no blood. So I assumed that wet spot was urine.
posted by zarq at 9:19 AM on April 12, 2013


Mapes: "It reminds me of when the guy who wrote Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil went on to uncover that snoozer of a story in Venice."

Oh, I liked City of Falling Angels.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:03 PM on April 12, 2013


Wouldn't there have been at least some blood from the gunshot wound? Like, on the bed or something? Did I miss a mention of that in the article?

The abdominal (or pleural, or pelvic) cavity can easily hold all the blood in a human being without any overt external signs, and as the pumping mechanism of his heart was ruptured by the bullet's trajectory, he likely lost consciousness in less than 20 seconds. Which is just about enough time to say "What the fuck?" get up, switch your cigarette, stand up and try to stagger to the door before dying. The bullet was probably in the mediastinum somewhere, exit wounds are less likely than you might think.

No major vessels in the scrotum, leakage from minor local vessel damage likely clotted quickly or was contained within the scrote; hemoperitoneum was in fact mentioned in the coroner's report.
posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 4:59 PM on April 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


^ (now that right there is an excellent comment, thanks!)
posted by LooseFilter at 5:08 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


But how did Brennan guess so quickly what had happened? Did he have more experience with gunshot wounds?

The following morning, Apple picked up Brennan and they visited the hotel room, where Apple showed him the crime-scene photos and the autopsy results, and reviewed what he had done over the previous seven months. Brennan heard him out and then announced, “I think I know how this guy died. I think I know when he died. I think I know who killed him. And I think I know how we’re going to catch him.”

It would have been fun if Bowden had asked him...
posted by noway at 6:53 PM on April 13, 2013


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