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March 27, 2023

Geistmann Redux: John Robinson Investigates, Chapter Seven

By Ron Singer

Chapter Seven
Cape Town, Saturday, May 10 - Thursday, May 15, 2025.

Lunch was satisfactory. As they ate, they talked shop, of course. Robinson ventured a new hypothesis, that the forgers/robbers might come from the ranks of survivors affiliated with, or related to, Geistmann's most palpable hits. He listed them: the Pan-African Cartel; the Moldovan human trafficking mob; or even the Takaguchi-yumi yakuza, the elderly oyabun, or leader, of which, Harito Yurei, was presumably still living. Robinson's reasoning was that these opportunistic wrongdoers were not above learning from their deceased foe.

Neugeborn heard the hypothesis out, but remained skeptical. "You're forgetting the block book, John. Why," he asked, "would any of those gangsters have wanted to lure you to South Africa?"

Robinson had thought of this objection. "A red herring, Fred? To make us think they were avengers?"

"That's too devious for me, John. Remember the first rule in detection: begin with the obvious. I think you should profile potential avengers who might also be potential copycats. I would look at his former associates, Piet Dykstra and Diodur Fedoruk (Arnold Weatherbee being dead). I might also add his techie, Samir Gupta, and perhaps a relative, or anyone else with a "Geistmann complex."

"True, all those are possible, Fred: an avenger who is also copycatting G. to indicate to us that it is his murder he is avenging."

Neugeborn left it at that.

The meal having been eaten, the check arrived. This time, John was too quick for Fred. "My turn," he said, and paid with his credit app. They parted outside the restaurant, with the understanding that whoever had any promising new leads would initiate the next meeting, which they guessed might not be for a few days. Fred said he would return, on foot, to the Consulate, and Robinson Ubered back to the UCT campus.

On his way to room 237, Robinson noticed that RAM's office was dark. There were signs that someone had been in 237, and a large day-glo orange post-it on the office computer monitor told him who it was. "Ready to go," it read, and it was signed, David (as per BM). Assuming the machine was now encrypted, Robinson sat down and emailed mabalt@vicap.fbi.gov (Mauro Balthazar) and sandyprof@soc.dept.ucal.sb.edu (Sandor Podgorny). Although Balthazar was now Assistant Director of the Bureau's Violent Crime Apprehension Unit (VICAP), in his previous position with the Behavioral Analysis Unit, he had partnered Robinson in profiling Geistmann. Robinson also considered cc-ing the renowned psychoanalyst, Otto Kernberg, but decided to wait until he had clues as to whether Redux was, or was not, a malignant narcissist, which was Kernberg's area of specialization.

Although Robinson's message assumed that Podgorny and Baltazar were acquainted with the basic facts about the Original, his email was still a bit complex. It ignored Neugeborn's advice to eliminate the crime syndicates from consideration.

Greetings! New case for you to chew on, Gents.

Need focused profiling for any of the following, connected w/ the late Armande Amrouche ("Geistmann"):

—Piet Dystra
—Diodur Fedoruk
—Samir Gupta
—any living relatives of A.A.
—Harito Yurei
—heads of PAC
—heads of Donduceni trafficking mob
—assorted pols. in Serbia, Ethiopia, the U.S., etc.
—anyone else you can think of.

Focuses: copycat crimes modelled on AA's, especially bank robbery; and forged incunabula, e.g. a block book , signed "Ghost Man," in Tamasheq (i.e. Tuareg).

These profiles can be preliminary sketches, just to help me get started, but a.s.a.p. please.

Many thanks,

(signed) John Robinson

First to reply, on Tuesday, May 13, was Pablo Markowitz. As usual, his long email was well worth reading (i.e. it confirmed Robinson's and Neugeborn's hunches):


Glad you're still extant.

"Who," you ask, "might send you a block book, specifically targeted at you, and to rob cyber-rob banks?" The answer is, "any of the above." Suppose we narrow the question to, "Who is most likely both to send you the forgery and cyber-rob the banks?" Even that is complicated, because either act could be a red herring.

Let's assume the forgery was an instrument (designed on a 3-D printer) to lure you to a place where you might be more vulnerable than in N.Y. City, your natural habitat. Harry Yurei is unlikely. After all, he came to Asheville to do what you did for him, kill Geistmann. That rules out the vengeance motive. As for the cyber-thefts, possible, but unlikely. Harry is an old-fashioned guy. And old, too. (In his early 80's?) He's probably playing golf and collecting dividends from the legal enterprises to which stricter enforcement by the Keisatsu-Cho, or Japanese National Security Agency, has recently forced the more conservative yakuza to move into.

The Moldovans/PAC? Both are certainly larcenous, and devious enough to use the block book as a red herring to distract you from the robberies. Of these two groups, the Moldovans are less likely. These days, the Donduceni mob is busy stealing and counterfeiting Covid vaccines, and helping their Kremlin minders consolidate their hold on Ukraine by helping the Russkie mobs rip off the Ukes eight ways to Sunday. Besides, for the Moldovans, twenty mill would be chump change. And, like Harry Yurei, why would they target you, the man who killed their nemesis?

The PAC, on the other hand, is just possible, assuming they've branched out from more direct forms of mayhem into cybercrime —which is likely, god knows, since the Nigerians, at least, are notorious cybercriminals. Their motive for going after you might be that you (as Geistmann's partner) went after them, in 2013, causing a major (if temporary) disruption of their operations. So you should keep the PAC in mind.

Fedoruk? Dykstra? Now, those are both interesting, but unlikely. Both have the smarts and the skills to do the forgery, rob the banks, and imitate their late idol, in the course of avenging his murder. But F. likes you, and he's been working for the Bureau for years now, on a very short leash (and a good salary). Piet is doubly isolated: locked away in a Super-Max, and probably too much of a loner to network, from inside, all the contacts he would need. Still, I wouldn't rule him out, either.

I've saved the best for last, John: a relative channeling G., and possibly working with G's super-techie, Samir Gupta. Somewhere between Vancouver and Kolkata, Bob and his CCTF people seem to have gotten onto SG's trail. I can't resist a pun here, John, in honour of our late frenemy: "And that's no baloney!"

Sorry, I owe you for that one. If I were you, I'd begin by checking DNA. (I think the Bureau kept some of G's.) If you could also get hold of a sample of Redux's DNA, it might save you a lot of legwork.

That's about it, my friend.

Be well, and do keep in touch,

(signed) Pablo

While he awaited Podgorny's reply, Robinson kept up with both of his jobs, sometimes even confusing the "beard" with the real one. Preoccupied with a myriad of administrative mundanities, RAM never seemed to run out of manuscripts in need of his visitor's attention. Even so, almost every day that week, Robinson would take a long lunch break with Fred Neugeborn, at the fish place near the Consulate.

"Remember that weak fission chips joke I made, Fred?" It was Wednesday, May 14, and they were working through large orders of breaded shrimp, a delicious, if excessive, Covid-era meal.

"Mmm, thanks for reminding me!" Fred said.

"Well, what would you say if I were to tell you that Pablo topped that one." He repeated Markowitz's "Kolkata/cold cuts" inanity.

" 'What would I say?' I might say it was an extreme instance of Covid-era dysfunction. Or I might say that the usually laconic Dr. Markowitz has been reduced to warmed-over Geistmann-isms. We all miss him, don't we, John?"

"In a way, yes."

He relayed Markowitz's DNA suggestion, and although Neugeborn went on eating enthusiastically, he raised an eyebrow, and said, "Hmm, I'll look into that."

On Thursday, May 15, the day after lunch with Fred, Sandy Podgorny finally chimed in. Podgorny was currently a Sociology Professor (full) at the University of California, Oxbow. Since, in his initial profiling of Geistmann, Robinson had been unable to enlist Podgorny's aid, this email was his first sample of the sociologist's thinking. As he read through it, Robinson thought it sounded a lot like Markowitz's, but translated from Psychology-speak to Sociology-speak.

Greetings to you, Dr. Robinson. Your question is a doozy, sir! Not having met, or even read much about, any of these suspects, I will respond based upon the parameters you delineate, supplemented by access to the Bureau's copious Geistmann file, provided by your partner in detection, Fred Neugeborn (whose own field of Cultural Anthropology shares, by the way, a porous border with my discipline).

I would disqualify the Japanese oyabun, Yurei, on both economic and demographic grounds: too old, probably too old-fashioned, and insufficient financial incentive. Fourthly, if anything, bushido would make this man your grateful ally, because you killed the killer of his beloved bodyguard. If anything, the oyabun must feel Gimu-kan (a sense of obligation) toward you.

As for the other two criminal organizations that Geistmann disrupted, the Moldovan and Pan-African, the former is less likely, for two reasons: 1. they are presumedly occupied with more contemporary and lucrative acts of transgression; and 2. as with Yurei, you carried out a killing that would have been dictated by their own code of honor.

As for the Pan-African Cartel, you are said to have been instrumental in their disruption twelve years ago. Since your partner in this work was M. Geistmann, whom you later killed, and since they are known, since, to have shifted, for the most part, from crimes IRL to cybercrime, I could certainly see them robbing the banks and, possibly, as well, having a score to settle with you. In short, the PAC could be your culprits.

Which still leaves us with Geistmann's personal, and possibly familial, relations. Of these, his two living former associates and intimate friends, Piet Dykstra and Diodur Fedoruk, are both probable. They know you well, possess the technical expertise, and are inclined to surreptitious and larcenous pursuits. However, since (as the file tells me) Piet is both incarcerated and anti-social, and since the Bureau seems to have a secure grip on Fedoruk, the likelihood of either man's culpability is somewhat reduced.

The family angle remains. Geistmann's Moldovan relatives-by-marriage should be carefully examined. Like the Japanese, Moldovans regard blood revenge as a matter of honor. In fact, many of their social mores, and much of their lurid history, stem from this code. Especially the son of a fallen warrior such as Geistmann (in the son's eyes), would be obliged to seek out and kill his father's killer. There is your Number One Suspect (assuming G. fathered only a single son)! I would add his wife, Elica, to the list. She has the same motive, if not the obligation, and may or may not have the forgery, and other, technical skills. Nor would I let her gender rule her out. However, from what I have read of Ms. Amrouche, I would judge that her disposition, reflected in her life's vocation, probably does disqualify her.

Hoping that these observations are of some use, and looking forward to hearing more, in the course of your investigation, and possibly to meeting you one day, I remain,

Yours truly,

(signed) S.L. Podgorny

Article © Ron Singer. All rights reserved.
Published on 2022-12-19
Image(s) are public domain.
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