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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“People in his company ring him up for the most ridiculous reasons,” continued Mrs Smith, “it’s as though they can’t make any decisions without consulting Stan and they should know, so we deliberately go away where he can’t be contacted just to see how they do in his absence, if you like.”

“What business are you in, Stan?” asked Annette.

 

Stan Smith smiled – “I am in children’s toys, and I have been wondering about branching out into jigsaws, but not standard ones like those” – he gestured with his finger behind him – “,mine would be based on people’s digital images, which they’d send to us, we’d imprint them on a wooden block or thick cardboard and send the jigsaw back to the people on the same day.”

 

“We’ve been doing your jigsaws and wondering whether we could number the pieces on the back, so that we could introduce a surprise element for people who wanted to see the picture complete for the first time, rather than seeing it gradually appear, if you understand what I mean,” explained Mrs Smith, “depending on which side they choose to put together.”

 

“That sounds like a grand idea,” said Andrew, “and I would never have thought of that.”

 

“It’s one thing to think of it,” said Stan, “but another to set up and yet another to make it profitable, but I have overcome worse problems before. Anyway, we should be going to bed – I need a lovely, long night’s sleep. I’ve been working too hard. Come on, Candy, let’s go.”

 

“Goodnight,” said Candy and clutched her husband’s arm as they headed to Room 2    

 

“That sounds so implausible it might just be true,” said Annette.

 

Her partner nodded – “He’s obviously well-to-do,” said Andrew, “as you say, it might just work.”

 

Some more snow landed with a low thud by the window. Andrew shivered. He had a funny feeling something was going to happen overnight, something strange, but he wasn’t quite sure what.

 

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Chapter 2 – Wednesday 8am – 14th December – Scoresby Police Station

 

“Are you all set up for Christmas, Sergeant Barnes?” asked Constable Smythe.

 

“No I am not,” replied Barnes, “and I won’t be for another 10 days probably – don’t ask the big boss that question as he doesn’t really like Christmas; he’s not exactly Scrooge when it comes to Christmas, and he’s never used the expression ‘bah humbug’ for example, but he’s not a big fan of the festive season. He doesn’t like snow either, but he does love driving around in it as it gives him an opportunity to show off how superior a Land Rover is in bad road conditions.”

 

“How come he’s late then, if he’s driving a Land Rover?”

 

“You’re cheeky you are,” replied Barnes.

 

“Might be,” said Smythe.

 

“He was working late last night on the paperwork for that case on the steam train from a few weeks ago, as the trial will probably be in the first week of January. He wants that all out of the way as he dislikes documenting cases.”

 

“Would it spoil his Christmas?” asked Smythe.

 

“I don’t think that would bother him too much. to be honest” said Barnes, “he thinks that the importance of Christmas is exaggerated and as a devout atheist, he doesn’t believe that Jesus was anything other than a man of great charisma.”

 

“Your listening skills are certainly improving Barnesy; when did I say that though, I am not normally that eloquent?” enquired Knowles as he slipped into his chair, “wow I couldn’t have done that this time last year I would have knocked the chair over.”

 

“Morning, Inspector Knowles,” said Smythe.

 

“Good morning, sir, you said that last year, on December 21st in the Eagle and Child Pub in Frisby Magna at 8pm.”

 

“Your note keeping is improving Sergeant Barnes – how did you get on this morning in that sleek sports car of yours on these slippery roads?”

 

“The brakes work well and there’s no ups and downs on the route by the river, although the shortcut, past the Black Hill Hotel, is closed for the foreseeable future. It looked all white up there this morning.”

 

“The official name is the Frisby Hill Hotel, though, isn’t it?” asked Smythe.