This excerpt is from the book entitled The Black Hill Hotel Mystery an English Murder Mystery book set in the winter countryside, starring two policemen who have been working together for a few years and get along well.
“That soon warms you up, doing that,” he said, “because the whiskey splashes on to the gums and some of the alcohol seeps into your bloodstream and warms you – at least that’s my theory. I’ll have another of those later on,” and with that he set the glass on the bar, winked at Roger, and headed after his wife.
Roger Scott looked after Clifford Benson and smiled. He turned round and saw the blonde Miss Helen Baxter coming towards him holding out her glass – another G & T, charged to the room, in her case Room 4. After serving her, Scott put on his coat and headed out to the woodpile, so the fire could be kept going for the rest of the evening.
At the table by the window Wanda Bowles and Anne Martin held hands and looked at the snow falling on top of the garden shed. They were excited. This was just what they’d hoped for; to get away for a few days to a place where no one could bother them and be together. Anne pointed at Roger Scott, who was swishing away the snow from the wood with his glove and pulling out a few large blocks.
“Rather him than me,” she said, “it must be cold out there”.
“He’s doing us all a favour, it’s very cosy in here,” replied Wanda, “and that’s the way, ah ha, ah ah I like it.”
“I’ll get you another red wine, it sounds like it could be a fun evening”.
“Well there’s going to be nothing to get up for on the next three mornings, other than to go for a little potter in the snow and perhaps walk to the nearest village for a pub lunch, so we may as well have a good long evening together.”
“We should make sure the car’s OK in all this snow,” said Anne.
“Well, we aren’t leaving for at least three days and I am sure I saw a spade in the garden shed earlier, so I think the future should take care of itself.”
“What will you be having for dinner tonight? The restaurant’s supposed to be really good here.”
Wanda looked up to the ceiling and tried to remember the menu – “I will be having the squash soup and then the chicken and finishing with the hazelnut tart; what will you have?”
Anne shook her head. “I thought it all looked wonderful and I will decide when I am sitting at the table.”
“That sounds very practical, Anne, oh look the barman’s back carrying the wood, so how about that wine you promised me?”
“One red wine coming right up,” said Anne, “oh look he dropped his glove, I’ll put it on the bar for him to collect later on.”
Anne picked up the wet glove and hung it, almost apologetically, over the rail at the front of the bar. Seeing that Roger was placing wood on the fire, Annette Verdun, the co-owner of the hotel, excused herself from the conversation she was having with Aneurin James from Room 3 and came over to the bar.
“Another glass of the Merlot?” she asked Anne.
“Oh yes, please and another G&T for me – could you put them on the bill for Room 5?”
“I can certainly do that,” said Annette, “and what is it you do for a living Anne?”
Annette prepared the drinks as Anne explained her work at the benefits office in North Birmingham, which was becoming increasingly fraught due to the latest round of government cuts.
“Sounds like a job with real responsibility,” said Annette placing the drinks carefully on the bar. She thought her job was difficult enough, trying to attend to the foibles of her guests on a daily basis, but Anne’s job sounded awful when she was having to tell people they would have even less money to feed their families with for the foreseeable future.
“It is,” replied Anne, “and I do find myself drinking too many of these in the evenings from time to time.” She held up her glass as she said this.
“Well, at least you’re aware of it and perhaps can moderate your alcohol intake by drinking juices instead,” said Annette, “anyway Roger’s back, so I will go back to continue my conversation with Mr James about moles and other garden pests.”
“Thank you, Miss Verdun for serving me,” said Anne and carried the drinks back to the table by the window.
“How’s the pile of wood doing out there?” Annette asked Roger.
“We have enough for about 3-4 days, but I will go out into the woods tomorrow and see whether any branches have been brought down by the snow.”
“Thank you, Roger, and if you need to stay the night, you can always sleep in the spare room above Room 8. Talking of Room 8, has Mr Wooster arrived?”
“I haven’t heard anyone arrive through the front door and only the hiking couple have come through the back door, as I am sure you saw.”
“I did, Roger, I certainly did see, I assume they came over the stile from the woods?”