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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Andrew guessed that Penny Baxter had a drink problem as she was really quite eloquent given that she’d drunk approximately ten double G & Ts in the past two hours. He’d have been under the table by now.          

“Well, I am so pleased you were able to get here before the snow; it would appear that not everyone was as lucky as you.”

“You mean someone is missing?”

 

“Mr Wooster, yes, it looks like he might be stuck somewhere.”

 

“He’s not fallen down in the grounds has he?” Miss Baxter appeared slightly anxious.

 

“No, not that I saw anyway. Why, do you think he might have?”

 

“Not if you’ve already checked, no, I would imagine he’s just not been able to get here, because vehicles can’t use the road outside as it’s too snowy and icy.”

 

“There’s no reception for Mobile phones here at the moment, so he probably has sent an email, it’s just not been received.”

 

“I do hope so, I wouldn’t want anyone to be stuck outside in this weather.”

 

“If you have some shelter it’s not that bad. It’s not so cold, though it may get down to freezing in more exposed places overnight.”

 

“It might be a bit crisp on my morning walk then,” replied Miss Baxter.

      

“The biggest problem might be getting out of the hotel as the snow tends to drift and there’s a bit of a wind now.”

 

“I can always climb out of my window; the snow has made that easier. I looked out and saw how much had fallen.”

 

“There’s certainly a lot about and it does tend to drift more on that side of the hotel,” replied Andrew before noticing that Annette was waving at him, “anyway I should go and see what Annette wants – it was lovely to have talked with you, Penny.” With that Andrew walked over to where Annette was standing.

 

“Andrew, have you noticed that The Smiths seem very keen on completing all our jigsaws?”

 

“How do you mean, Annette?”

 

“They’ve just completed a second jigsaw, in about half-an-hour, this one is of the Parthenon in Athens. The odd thing is that they seemed very keen to look on the back of the puzzle, even to the extent of completing it on a glass table.”

“Why would they be doing that? Has someone written something rude on one of our jigsaws that we don’t know about?”

 

“Or a coded message like in that Wallace and Gromit film?”

 

“We are getting into the realms of fantasy now, Annette. Secret messages scribbled on the backs of jigsaws seems odd to me in this age of instant messaging, texts, and emails.”

 

“Perhaps I have seen too many spy films, but that is what I am seeing them do.”

 

“Did you buy that jigsaw, because I certainly wouldn’t have,” remarked Andrew.

 

“People bring them for us from village sales and the like,” replied Annette, “I don’t think either of us have bought any jigsaws.”

 

“Well there’s nothing written on that one because it seems as though they’re going to have a go at another one,” observed Andrew, “we should leave them to it.”

 

“I suppose we should, because it’s not a crime is it?”

 

“Not that I am aware of,” chuckled Andrew, “and there’s worse things they could be doing.”

 

“Yes, indeed, but I would love to know what the message says.”

 

“Annette, there probably isn’t one, anyway I should seen what Wendy wants, she’s looking anxious.”

 

Wendy Hoxton was indeed anxious “Mr Croft, the Jones’s have come to tell me that they believe they saw someone outside in the snow, well at least Mr Jones did, I saw Mrs Jones sneaking off up the stairs, so I said ‘Mrs Jones I think you’re in Room 1’. She apologised, but she seemed to be looking in the direction of Room 8.”

 

“Where are they now?”

 

“They went to their room.”

 

“Right, well come with me, Wendy, I would like to know who they saw outside.”

 

Andrew marched quite quickly around to Room 1. Wendy had trouble keeping up with him. Andrew rapped three times on the door and took a slight step when the door opened by Mr Jones.

 

“Hello, Mr Jones, how are you?”