Can you solve this mini-mystery?


By Richard Ciciarelli

Inspector Mallory White looked across her desk at Sergeant Alfred Clock.

“Chief Superintendent Rivers has put me in charge of the Bankert case,” she said. “Please bring me up to date.”

“Lloyd Bankert, movie producer, was found dead in his living room,” Clock said. “Death was caused by a blow to the head with a plaster bust.”

“Any suspects?” White asked.

“Three. Bankert was producing a World War II film about an American nurse who falls in love with both an RAF pilot and his mechanic. A real love triangle.”


“And the three lead actors were proving to be a bit of a disappointment. We found this in a drawer in Bankert’s study.”

Clock produced a palm-sized recorder, placed it on White’s desk, and pressed a button.

“Why did anyone suggest Anna Overstreet as my nurse?” Lloyd Banket’s voice flowed from the recorder. “That Brooklyn, New York, accent of hers is too harsh and grating. I’ve asked her to tone it down, but she’s not talented enough to do that.

“And Colin Turnbull – he’s too handsome. No one would ever believe the nurse would toss him over for the mechanic. Besides, he reads his lines like a third grader.

“As for Lawrence Gray being a mechanic – He can’t even pronounce the mechanical terms correctly when he’s reading them from a script. How will he ever get them right without one?

“At least one of them will have to be replaced. Note to self: make call first thing tomorrow.”

Clock hit the button again and the recorder went silent.

“Sounds like trouble on the set,” White said.

Clock nodded. “Apparently this film is projected to be a huge hit. Everyone involved could count on this being a career maker.”

“So being fired might be motive for someone to lose his temper and swing a bust at the producer’s head.” White pursed her lips.

“We found this in Bankert’s drawer along with the recorder.” Clock passed a printed note to his superior.

“I got the message you left on my cell phone,” White read. “I’ll be at your apartment at noon.  We’ll talk.”

“The coroner places Bankert’s death at some time between noon and one pm,” Clock said. “So if we can find out who wrote that note, we may have our killer.”

“Do we know how Bankert got this?” White asked.

“His secretary found it on her desk in a plain envelope with Bankert’s name on it. She handed it to him when he entered his office at nine that morning.”

“So Bankert did call one of his stars,” White said. “Where were those three between noon and one?”

“On the movie set.”

“So they alibi each other?”

“Not really,” Clock shook his head. “The director called a lunch break at eleven thirty, as he usually did. Rehearsal didn’t reconvene until two. The actors claim to be in their trailers alone, going over their lines and eating.”

White sighed. “I guess I’ll have to pay a visit to that movie set to speak with our suspects.”

Two hours later Inspector White found herself face-to-face with the three actors.

“You all know why I’m here,” she said. “Your producer was murdered and there’s a chance one of you may have killed him.”

“Nonsense,” Colin Turnbull said. “Lloyd hired us. Why would we want him dead?”

“Because apparently he was going to fire one of you. And losing a role in this film could be very damaging to your careers.”

“Fire us?” Anna Overstreet asked. “Why would Lloyd fly me here from New York and put me up in a hotel if he was going to fire me?”

“He did all that before he heard you act,” White said. “He didn’t like your particular American accent.”

“What about Colin and me?” Lawrence Gray asked.

“Let’s just say he wasn’t overly fond of either of you.  Now that I think of it,” White said, “I think I know which of you met with Mr. Bankert and struck him with that bust.”


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