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.
“The point is though that no one of that name has stayed at the hotel before and yet the person who booked the room said that they had stayed before; was their a confirmation email by any chance?” asked Knowles.
“I am sure there was as we insist on written confirmation – I will go and check for you,” said Annette.
“Thank you,” said Knowles, “I would like to go and talk to the chefs – where are the kitchens?”
Knowles followed his instructions and arrived to see a slim, younger woman with blue streaks in her fringe and a tanned complexion stirring a large tureen. An older woman was tenderising some meat and monitoring the temperature of one of the three ovens in the kitchen. They were both wearing hats.
“Hello, I am Inspector Knowles from Scoresby CID, do I have the pleasure of speaking to Mathilde and Angelique Ventris?”
“You do, Inspector, I am Mathilde and this is my daughter, Angelique, we are preparing lunch for our guests and any other people who happen to be keen walkers on a day like this.”
“Hello, Inspector,” said Angelique, re-adjusting her hat so that her fringe no longer escaped, “I have to be careful when making the soup – no hairs.”
“That’s a good thing,” said Knowles, “I’d like to ask a few questions, if I may, regarding the hotel and last night.”
“Oh yes, something strange seems to be going on, doesn’t it; people wandering around outside in wellington boots and climbing over the stile,” said
“You know about that?” said Knowles.
“Yes, some of the guests were talking about that last night during their meals,” said Angelique, smiling at the thought.
“Can you remember which guests?” asked Knowles.
“I think all of them, at one time or another,” said Mathilde, “but I think it’s because Andrew was shivering and someone asked him why and he told them and people overheard.”
“I see, so did you see anything outside last night through the windows, people creeping about?”
“I saw Andrew walking towards the fields and then perhaps five minutes later someone else heading the other way, which wasn’t Andrew, but that is not unusual as people can come along the footpaths, over the stile, and then the footpath goes around the back of the shed and the woodpile and goes over the road towards Peatling Astley.”
“Even in this weather?” queried Knowles.
“You’d be amazed,” confirmed Angelique, “people are out in all sorts of weather.”
“How do you know you saw Andrew, by the way?” asked Knowles.
“He has a red waterproof and I saw that by the light over the backdoor,” replied Mathilde, “the other walker could have been Andrew I suppose because that walker did not approach the light, but I don’t believe it was, they seemed to be walking differently to Andrew.”
“I see,” said Knowles, jotting down the detail, “and what time was this?”
“It was around 7pm,” said Mathilde, “though I couldn’t be 100% sure as I was getting the dinner ready.”
“Thank you for your time,” said Knowles, “by the way, that soup smells wonderful, leeks and chicken?”
“You have it, Inspector,” said Angelique, “cock-a-leekie. I put rice in it and slivers of prune just as the original recipe instructed. Would you like a taste?”
“Absolutely,” said Knowles and took the proffered tasting bowl. He tasted the contents and nodded his head in approval, “I wish I was staying for lunch, that tastes amazing, I don’t normally like leeks.”
“That’s why I am a chef,” said Angelique winking at him, “and you’re an Inspector.”
“Good point,” said Knowles, laughing along with the joke, “that’s a good point, anyway I shall be along later in the day, so I might see you then.”
“‘Bye Inspector,” said Mathilde and Angelique in unison.
Knowles went back to reception where Andrew, Annette, and PC Smythe were having a discussion.
“What has everyone found out?” asked Knowles.
“I have phoned in the client’s names and addresses and we will have more information when we get back to the office,” said Smythe, “I only obtained a signal about 100 yards down the hill towards the river, which you can’t see clearly from the road – the view from the field is much better.”