Former BCA agent pens crime novel
During his 30 years in law enforcement, Larry Bergsgaard spent almost as many hours filling out reports and paperwork as he did investigating cases.
"Unlike in TV shows and movies, investigators spend most of their time writing reports," says Bergsgaard, who now lives on Upper Cormorant Lake, south of Lake Park. "I've written tens of thousands of pages."
Fortunately, somewhere along the way he discovered that he liked it.
So when Bergsgaard retired five years ago from his position as a special agent with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA, or Crime Bureau), at age 55, he decided to try his hand at writing as a second career.
His first published novel, While Others Sleep, was recently released by Indiana-based Dog Ear Publishing, and a second, Next Year in Jerusalem, is due on shelves "any day now," says the author, who writes under the name L.D. Bergsgaard.
Both books are part of a planned four-part series featuring protagonist Franklin Delano "Doc" Martini, who like his creator, is a BCA agent.
"He (Martini) grew up in the Iron Range of Minnesota," says Bergsgaard, who is a native of Mandan, N.D., but has "spent most of my adult life in Minnesota."
In fact, Minnesota is the setting for the entirety of While Others Sleep, though the action shifts around various parts of the state as Martini and his fellow agents investigate a mysterious death.
Martini, who appeared to be destined for the NFL as a young athlete, wound up being drafted into the military and serving during the Vietnam War.
"There's a lot of back story on Doc," Bergsgaard teases, "including how he got his nickname."
But Doc isn't the only character that has a story to tell in the 380-page novel.
"Like all good protagonists, he's surrounded by a group of workmates that are characters in their own right," Bergsgaard promises.
Though they have some things in common, such as years of working undercover as a special agent, Bergsgaard said his protagonist is not meant to represent himself.
"He's taken on a life of his own," Bergsgaard added. "I have to be able to visualize something in my mind before I write about it. In my mind, Doc is real."
He and Doc do share a love for investigative work.
"I enjoyed the challenge, the adrenaline -- the excitement of it all was what drew me more than anything," Bergsgaard says of his years as a criminal investigator. "You never knew from day to day what would be on the agenda."
Bergsgaard was not only in charge of his own special investigations unit, he was also in charge of the BCA's SWAT team, which sometimes involved "getting calls at 2 a.m. to go anywhere in the state and assist sheriffs and police departments.
"It was challenging -- never boring."
Yet while he admits that he thoroughly enjoyed his 18 years with the BCA, and before that, 10 years as a special agent with the U.S. Treasury Department, the retired investigator also says he doesn't miss it.
"I've found new challenges," Bergsgaard says.
The budding author now spends his days finding ways to bring his expertise in covert investigation into a fictional setting.
And he is also learning the ropes of book promotion. "This is new to me," Bergsgaard says. "I've never had to market myself before."
Yet he already seems to be a natural: The author's first official book signing will take place during the Cormorant Daze celebration on Saturday, Aug. 20, where he will sign copies of his book at the Cormorant Community Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
"One of the characters in my book will be making an appearance," Bergsgaard says, adding teasingly,
"It's the only character who's not fictional."
To find out who it is, you'll have to read the book -- or come to the book signing.