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March 27, 2023

Geistmann Redux: John Robinson Investigates, Chapter Five

By Ron Singer

Chapter Five
Cape Town, Friday, May 9, 2025.

Dutifully, Robinson spent the rest of the workday on some dating and attribution conundrums posed by a new Songhai fragment that Dr. Mzamene gave him when he handed in his work on the Tifinagh document. The importance of the Songhai fragment lay in establishing the dates and authenticity of an important trans-Saharan trade route. At six-thirty, when RAM knocked at his door, he had not made much headway on the authenticity question, but the dating evidence pointed to the turn of the century (15th-16th).

"I'm off to yet another budget meeting, John," RAM said, trying to look cheerful. "You should stop work for the day. Since that Songhai trade doc. is at least eight centuries old, it can wait until Monday morning. Try to get some rest this weekend, you still look weary. But I think I already know you well enough to guess that you'll spend the weekend pursuing your other interests."

Since, prior to the airport meeting the previous afternoon, they had never communicated on a personal level, Robinson was impressed by RAM's accurate reading. When the Director quietly closed the door behind himself, Robinson put the Songhai document back in its folder and returned to the Redux work.

He now focused on a new question: are bank robberies sometimes copycat crimes? On a United States Department of Justice site, he accessed an Australian study that found no evidence that newspaper reports of successful in-person bank robberies inspired copycat robberies.

What about cyber-bank robberies? He found that, while both cybercriminals and "non-cyber" do commit the same types of crime, including economic ones (like robbing banks), there seemed to be no specific examples of copycat cyber-heists. Regardless, he assumed that the phenomenon must exist.

He was left with what he had known from the start: Geistmann's bank heist(s) copied those of Willie Sutton, about which he apparently knew from media sources (books, newspapers, TV, and movies). With the block book signature, Redux had proclaimed himself Geistmann's heir, but his method of robbing banks was more likely garnered from contemporary media sources, such as the dark web, rather than traditional ones. At that point, Robinson decided to wait for the next day's meeting with the experts, Martinez, Yamamoto and Neugeborn.

Once again, he had reached a temporary dead end. As an amateur and a generalist in all his F.B.I. consultations over the years, the experience was familiar. He consoled himself by thinking how unlikely it was that the Bureau had a unit dealing with incunabula.

Robinson's thoughts turned to dinner. He would take the book about Dictionary Murray with him. Even the title amused him: Caught in the Web of Words. With Redux and himself, which was the spider, which the fly?

Article © Ron Singer. All rights reserved.
Published on 2022-12-05
Image(s) are public domain.
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