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 sounds fine and while we are talking to him, can you find out whether his window has been opened during the night? Thank you, Annette.”
“I will do,” smiled Annette knowing when she had been dismissed from someone’s presence.
“Are you ready, Linda?”
“I am sir, the snow is falling steadily now, so those tracks will soon be lost. I will make a small map in my notebook of the route they followed along with the distances involved.”
“Sounds like a plan, Linda, and you stay in here and draw that, whilst I am talking to Mr Aneurin James. If you could make an approximate guess how long ago those tracks were made, I’d be interested.”
“I will do, sir, though it will be a guess of course.”
“Understood, Linda, thank you.”
Knowles went into The Lounge and saw a ruddy-faced man sitting at a table. He was about 50 and had a straggly, red beard.
“Mr James, Mr Aneurin James?” asked Knowles.
“The man half stood up and shook Knowles’ hand. “That’s me,” he said, “you the police?”
“I am indeed, I am Detective Inspector Colin Knowles from Scoresby.”
“That’s local is it?” replied James.
“It is, yes, where are you from?”
“Over Hereford way,” he said, “and I came for some rest and relaxation and I didn’t expect to have my wallet stolen, which it was whilst I was asleep.”
“It was taken from your room whilst the door was locked?” queried Knowles.
“From my trousers pocket, would you believe?”
“I wouldn’t believe it actually, as you asked, that seems far-fetched, are you sure you didn’t leave it in the bar, by mistake?”
“No, because I used one of the cards from the wallet as a bookmark when I got to my room and it is still there this morning.”
“Which card is that,” asked Knowles, “one of your business cards?”
“It isn’t, no, it’s my only credit card, my Visa card, but I won’t need it here until I leave, so I may as well use it as a bookmark until then. I put the card in the book and then put the book under my pillow when I decided to lay back and think about the chapter I’d just read.”
“You’ve been lucky, then, because the thief was probably after you card and didn’t find it as it was in your book. Genius! What else was in your wallet?”
“A tenner and various receipts and some business cards for my local garden centre, that sort of thing.”
“When are you leaving, Mr James?”
“It will be on Saturday at 2pm when I head home in my faithful Skoda.”
“I think your rather damp wallet will be with you on your return journey, Mr James.”
“How do you know?”
“Because the thief was after your Credit Card and didn’t find it, so they will discard the wallet quickly, probably in a snowdrift close to the hotel. Look after your credit card really well, Mr James, continue to sleep with it under your pillow.”
Annette Verdun came into The Lounge along with Andrew Croft. Knowles looked up at them and nodded – “Mr James has had a wallet and 10 pounds stolen, but not much else, and I am quietly confident the wallet will be found when the snow melts. He can still pay you when he leaves, now how about this room that’s been damaged, can I see that?”
Knowles stood up and then had a sudden thought – “Mr James,” he said, “how did you sleep last night?”
“Like an absolute log, it was so difficult for me to wake up, it must be the country air.”
“Thank you,” said Knowles, “now shall we go and see this room, which room is it?”
“It’s Room 8,” replied Andrew.
“Where Mr Wooster should have slept last night, but didn’t” continued Knowles.
When they were out of earshot of Mr James, Annette spoke to Knowles.
“We checked the window in Room 3 and it was opened last night and someone did exit through the window and almost certainly came in that way again. The snow has been compacted and there’s half a dirty, wet footprint on the carpet.”