Series of Michigan novels shines a spotlight on the businesses and people of the Bay City area

Dave Vizard is a Michigan novelist who writes what he knows: Bay City, The Thumb, and newsrooms.

Over the last dozen years, the former news editor of The Bay City Times has created the Nick Steele Mystery Series – seven novels that follow the investigative exploits of reporter Steele with the fictional Bay City Blade.

The latest novel, “Murder for Treasure – Booty is in the Eye of the Beholder,” is gaining national and statewide attention with top-rated reviews. The national Kindle Book Review calls “Murder for Treasure,” a five-star thriller, and the Michigan in Books blog praises: “It was a pleasure to read a well-written novel set against the beautifully painted backdrop of the Saginaw Bay and the Thumb areas.”

Vizard – not to be confused with the noted automotive writer, David Vizard, from Arizona – lives in the Thumb near Caseville. Each of his novels is based in Bay City, but ventures out wherever Steele chases the story – often to the Thumb and sometimes to the Straits of Mackinac.

A career journalist for 40 years, Vizard needed a creative outlet after retiring from The Bay City Times. He dabbles in other business pursuits and stays busy with real estate sales, but creating stories has always been a passion for him.

As a self-described “whole hog” kind of person, Vizard goes all in when it comes to any endeavor. He began playing around with his first story on his own time while working at The Times. Five years later, he completed and published “A Formula for Murder.”

When the book was released, Vizard had no idea how warmly it would be received. The story was developed after he attended three American Fiction Writing conferences in Chicago. He’s now written and published seven novels; an eighth is nearly complete. He sells many copies of his books at resort locations, where vacationers pick up novels while they have time to relax.

“That’s worked very, very well. I’m selling thousands of books, more than I ever imagined,” he says. “Each story stands alone, and they are designed as fast-paced reads. You can finish them in just a few days, or at your leisure as one might while vacationing.”

“Murder for Treasure” is based on an actual historical event – the sinking of the R.G. Coburn in Lake Huron in 1871. The steamer was loaded with silver ore and has never been found.

In Vizard’s tale, a group of friends from the Thumb find the sunken treasure in the 1970s. Years later, the friends squabble over the loot and a deadly fate meets two members of the group.  

Because of Nick Steele’s knack for uncovering new evidence for previously “open and shut” cases, a Bay City woman approaches him to uncover the truth behind her father’s recent death. It wasn’t an accident; she knows it was murder and it has something to do with her dad’s treasure-hunting friends.

Nick and his partner, a fellow reporter at The Blade, set out to investigate. They reveal evidence that re-opens the case of her father’s death, and the reporters embark on a treasure hunt of their own to discover the lost booty.

“Murder for Treasure” offers an entertaining mystery that’s peppered with details of real local streets, towns, and businesses. The characters visit places such as Populace Coffee and the old Brass Lantern while talking to sources or meeting colleagues. It’s a fun blend of fiction and familiar, something a Bay County reader can appreciate.

According to Vizard, successful writing is all about developing a regular process. He’s found the routine that works best for him: daily morning quiet time with his laptop, accompanied by coffee, a little bowl of dry Cheerios, and Motown softly whispering in the background.

Vizard conducts workshops and seminars on the writing and publishing processes. Last fall, he hosted a workshop called: “Start Your Writing Project with Dave Vizard” at Saginaw Public Libraries. This fall, he is presenting at Bay City’s Jack & Alice Wirt Library.

Vizard’s workshops are designed to help writers get started, regardless of the kind of work planned.

“You have to plot out the project,” he says. “I encourage writers to figure out what their message is, decide how they are going to tell their stories, and then develop a process to sit down and write it.”

He also reminds them that inspiration for scenes, characters, and concepts can come from anywhere.

“Now, everything that I look at that I find interesting, I think, ‘How can I work that into a story? Where can that fit?’ I even go to restaurants and just listen to conversations.”

While that habit might earn a knowing remark from Barbara (his wife), Vizard can’t help but keep his ear out for ideas.

He provides an example that came from a post on Facebook. Titled ‘Mother’s Apron,’ it describes around a dozen functions that bib aprons serve, from cleaning glasses to wiping hands to acting as potholders. In the book he’s currently writing, Nick Steele visits a Betty Crocker-like character. Throughout his questioning, she uses her apron for each of the functions that were laid out in that Facebook post.

Along with crafting relatable characters, Vizard strives to ensure the details are believable. He relies heavily on his son, Michael D. Vizard, a practicing lawyer in the Fenton area, and retired Bay County Circuit Judge Harry P. Gill, to navigate the legal process within the mysteries he develops.

“They keep me on a sound legal path,” Vizard says. “I want my stories to be realistic. Good fiction must be plausible. And if I run off the rails, readers are smart enough to figure that out. So, I work very hard at making my stories ring true.”

Vizard’s books can be purchased at Midland Street Books on Bay City’s West Side. Vizard hopes to release his eighth novel later this year. For now, he will only describe it as a murder on Mackinac Island and a threat of domestic terrorism in the Bay City area.

When asked how long he plans to continue writing the Nick Steele series, Vizard smiles.

“That’s one of the great things about newspapering. Every day is a new story. Every day is a new adventure. That’s why I loved it. So, Nick could do this forever.”

Folks with questions or interest in his books for a book club or writing group can contact Vizard at

More information is also available at
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