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.

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“You didn’t see anyone around did you?”

“I didn’t even see you, Andrew, let alone anyone else.”

“Fair enough,” said Andrew and sought out Annette at the reception.

“Hello Love,” said Annette, kissing Andrew on the lips, “thanks for going out there in that blizzard.”

“That’s OK,” replied Andrew, “it’s not something I’d care to repeat in a hurry. Anyway there is something odd going on. There are tracks all around the hotel, but they weren’t made by those Size 12 boots – it was someone in Size 8s or maybe 9s at a push. I take it Mr Robert Wooster hasn’t arrived?”

 

“He hasn’t and I did check with the three ladies and none of them went out and none of them wear Size 12s.” Annette smiled when she remembered the incredulous look that Angelique gave her.

 

“The Size 12s is a red herring; I think someone just pressed them into the snow and then put them back, whilst wearing their own wellies. There’s someone up to something – the lock on the garage had been inspected too and whoever it was went over the stile and I now feel made sure I saw them, so they must have been watching me through binoculars.”

 

“Well there’s something else that’s odd, Andrew; Wendy has had her spare set of keys stolen this afternoon, probably around 6pm – they were hanging just inside the laundry door. She last saw them at 5pm when she was finishing the drying and then an hour later, they were gone.”

 

“Interesting – those keys can get into Rooms 1 to 8, but nowhere else. I wonder whether one of our guests plans to visit another of our guests during the night? I wonder if I should call the police?”

 

“And say what exactly, Andrew?” asked Annette, “no crime has been committed. I was thinking someone was trying to gain access to Room 8 given that Mr Wooster isn’t here.”

     

“Someone knows Mr Wooster isn’t coming and is planning ahead?”

 

“Yes, anyway, let’s put on our best smiles the guests are coming down to dinner. I think we should take it in turns to mingle while the other one stops here and keeps an eye on any guests who might be trying to sneak a peek in someone else’s room between courses. Perhaps Wendy can keep watch after dinner for an hour?”

 

“But we can’t stay up all night, can we?” said Andrew, “I have an uneasy feeling we might have to call the police tomorrow.”

 

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Dinner went without a hitch and everyone apart from Miss Baxter went straight from the dining room to the lounge. Wendy, who normally felt bored after dinner had been served, was asked to watch reception and make a note of any guest who left the bar to go to their room. She had to make a note of the time they entered their room and which other room(s) the guest went into, just in case there was more than one room. Wendy made a note of the time Miss Baxter went into her room (Room 4) at 9:35 p.m. and returned at 9:50 p.m. looking a little the worse for wear. Wendy checked the time against the clock at reception. Miss Baxter had drunk a whole bottle of red wine for dinner and was doing well to stand up straight, at least in Wendy’s opinion.

 

The Lounge was abuzz with the talk of people who’d eaten a wonderful dinner and drunk plenty of alcoholic beverages. Benny Scott was talking to Cloda Holmes about where they could go on their summer holidays.

 

“We should branch out a bit, go further than Lanzarote this year” he said.

 

“Well, where’s further than Lanzarote?” replied Cloda looking slightly dishevelled after losing a carrot down the front of her dress during the main course.

 

“Well South America, South Africa, Italy, Greece, Japan places like that.”

 

“Yes, but that’s a lot of places, a lot of places for a 3-week trip, so just choose one and we’ll go there, I promise.”

 

“OK, then Greece.”

 

“No, not Greece, it’s poor and you have to take lots of cash.”

 

“South Africa, then.”

 

“No, not South Africa there’s too many robbers. How about Italy?”

 

“I thought I was deciding.”

 

“I thought so too, but I didn’t like your ideas.” Cloda cackled, “Oh look at his little face, he’s so upset, no I was just joking, we can go to Greece.”

 

“I’m not sure I want to go now” said Benny “you’ve jinxed it for me. How about Corfu away from the migrants?”

 

“Sounds good to me, my darling, I’ll have another Rum and Coke when you can summon up the strength to stand up and walk in a straight line.” She guffawed again and Benny coloured slightly.