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.
“It is Linda, though the locals like Sergeant Barnes still call it the Black Hill Hotel,” said Knowles, “as they wish to appear to be in the know.” He tapped the side of his nose and Barnes shook his head slightly. A couple of years ago, Barnes would have been embarrassed, perhaps even blushing, but he was getting used to Knowles’ good-natured joshing at long last.
“How was your evening, sir?” asked Barnes.
“I have finished all the documents for the trial and all the evidence has been collected, so the trial against Mrs Harkness shouldn’t last too long – it’s supposed to start on 3rd January and probably will just last the rest of that week.”
“You can forget about it now then, Inspector Knowles, and enjoy your Christmas,” said Smythe.
“I will do, Linda, when I buy those organic small mince pies and have some organic eggnog with them. The only problem is that the Freddie cat likes the mince pies too and will try and steal them from my plate with his paw. He will also chew the packaging if they’re left out on the counter, even though it will make him sick. What will you be doing, Linda?”
“I am down to be working for the duration, 24th December until 2nd January – and then I am going away for three weeks after the Harkness trial is over, to see my sister in New Zealand.”
“Well good for you – what about you, Barnesy?”
“I am staying around for Christmas and New Year and then, after the Harkness trial, I will be heading for some last-minute winter sunshine, though I am not sure where yet.”
“There will be a huge choice I would think, but I would favour The Seychelles seeing as they are one of the nation’s who will be first hit by Global Warming and the rise of sea levels.”
“Is that where you’re going sir?”
“Don’t worry, Sergeant, I will check with you before I book anything – I have to get someone to come in and look after the cats, which complicates matters for me.”
At that moment, the phone on Smythe’s desk rang – “Hello, Constable Smythe here…really…well….is everyone OK? A missing wallet? And other odd things?…… In the snow after dark, OK, well someone will be up there straightaway.”
“Who was that?” asked Knowles, after Smythe had placed the receiver on its cradle.
“Ironically enough, it was the Frisby Hill Hotel, who would like us to head up there as someone’s wallet has been stolen and someone has been in one of the empty rooms and done some damage. He also said people were walking around in the blizzard late last night.”
“Well, I am off to see that jeweller who has been accused of fencing stolen property,” said Barnes, “and I won’t be back until 10 ish.”
“That’s OK, Barnesy, I will take Linda in my Land Rover to the Black Hill Hotel although you will need some wellies Linda as the snow will be thick up there, really deep in places.”
“Right,” said Linda, “I will go and get those from the store and see you in the car park in about 5 minutes.”
“Sounds like a plan,” said Knowles, smiling at Barnes, “why would someone break into an empty hotel room, Sergeant?”
“Because they wished to share a room with someone else in the hotel other than the person they came to the hotel with.”
“And by definition, the other person would have come to the hotel with a significant other too, otherwise they’d be in a single room.”
“Unless the single room was either above or below the other person’s room, or on one side of the room, and they didn’t wish to wake the other person.”
“The other option is that someone got into the room to try and find something, which might have been hidden by or left behind by a previous occupant of the room.”
“That’s an interesting theory, sir, anyway I should go and see Sid the jeweller, so good luck with the hotel staff, especially Andrew Croft, who is a bit of a fusspot, if truth be told.”
“Thanks for the information, Barnesy, I think I have met the man before, so I know what you mean, but he is the owner of the hotel is he not?”
“He is, sir, along with Annette Verdun. Roger Scott is the barman and they have some good real ales in the bar, which is why people don’t mind being stuck up there. The food is excellent too. See you later.”
“Thanks, Barnesy, see you later.”
With that, Colin Knowles, headed out into the car park and saw that it was still snowing slightly; he knew more snow was in the forecast for the afternoon and evening. He checked in the back and had no trouble seeing his wellingtons, which were long and very yellow. They could be seen from outer space.