Can you solve this mini-mystery?


By Adrian Ludens

"We've got eight suspects lined up over there on the sidewalk," Corporal Michael Hall reported. "Claim they were performing together when the bank was robbed. They're all dressed the same. I think they're a Mariachi band. If we don't come up with probable cause quick, we'll have to let them go."

Inspector Rebecca Lawton nodded. "Let me worry about that. What did the witnesses say?"

"There were four men, all dressed in black and wearing ski masks. One watched the door. One collected wallets and jewelry. The third went to the vault with the bank manager, while the fourth forced the tellers to empty their tills."

"Were they armed?"

"They carried guitar cases, and the tellers told me everyone assumed they had weapons inside." Michael replied. "Turns out they were empty. They used the guitar cases to haul away the bundled cash."

"Any of the suspects get interviewed yet?"

"Just one. Claims the others only speak Spanish."

Rebecca arched one eyebrow. "Interesting. Maybe I can use that assertion to our advantage."

She and Hall approached the eight suspects. They lounged against a cinder block wall under the watchful eyes of two armed officers.

"Already told you everything we know," the group's spokesman said. "I want to call my lawyer. This is harassment."

Rebecca flashed the man a warm smile. "Another unit just pulled over a suspicious-looking van across town. You guys are off the hook." She extended a hand, offering to shake. "What was your name?"

"Miguel," The group spokesman replied. He returned her handshake.

"And everyone else?"

"That's Ramón, Rafael, Carlos, Esteban, Diego, Alfredo, and Ernesto," Miguel said, pointing to each man in turn.

"Will you gentlemen accept my apologies?" Rebecca asked. Miguel and two others nodded.

"I don't want to impose," Rebecca began. "But I love Mariachi music."

"Cool," Miguel replied. "Maybe we'll see you at our next show."

"That'd be terrific! What instrument do you play, by the way?"

"Acoustic guitar."

"Nice. How about the others?" Rebecca asked. "Which of you plays the guitarrón?"

Miguel's smile never flickered. He pointed out one of his companions. "Ramón does."

"Muy bien," Rebecca remarked. "And the vihuela player?"


"Who's your fiddle player?"

"Rafael is."

"I see. And in your band, do you include a classical guitar or do you have a more traditional Mariachi sound with a guitarra de golpe?"

The spokesman paused to consider. "Ernesto there is one of the best classical guitarists in the state. We're lucky to have him."

Inspector Rebecca Lawton smiled appreciatively. "Muy bien. Who gets to lug around the stand-up bass, then?"

"Alfredo plays bass." Miguel revealed. "Now, if you don't mind, we really must be going."

"Just one more question. Who is the flute player?"

Miguel smiled at her indulgently. "Mariachi bands do not have a flute player, Inspector. We have trumpet players; Diego and Carlos."

"Of course, silly me." Rebecca turned to Corporal Hall. "Let's bring all eight in for further questioning."

Miguel looked dismayed. "Why?"

Lawton smiled and casually rested her hand on the butt of her handgun. "I hope that once we get you to the police station you'll start singing a different tune."

Why does Inspector Lawton want to bring the supposed members of the Mariachi band to the police station for further questioning?

Please click here to reveal the answer.

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