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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“I found the email confirmation and printed it off for you, Inspector,” said Annette handing Knowles a piece of paper.

 

“We have been visited by a Mr Castle and a Miss Woodhouse in the past month, so here are their contact details. PC Smythe also suggested providing a list of all the people who have stayed in Room 8 in the past 2 months, so here is that list of 46 people for you to check.”

 

“That’s a great idea, thanks for that information,” said Knowles, “we should make some discoveries about who is doing what and why.”      

 

“Presumably, one of the previous occupants of Room 8 had left something in there for a future occupant to find,” said PC Smythe, “hence the disrupted furniture?”

 

“That sounds possible,” said Knowles encouragingly, “good thinking Linda.”

 

“Well let’s hope a name on their brings up some interesting facts,” said Annette, “I’m not understanding what’s going on here, to be honest.”

 

“There is one thing, if someone left something behind – their toilet bag or a toothbrush say – what would you do?”

 

“We would contact the person and ask them what we should do, with the proviso that we wouldn’t mail anything to them, we’d either keep it for them to collect in the future or give it a better home, which in the case of toothbrushes means the bin.”

 

“Glad to hear that,” said Smythe wrinkling her nose.

 

“Right, but did any of those people in Room 8 leave anything, that you would have contacted them about?” asked Knowles.

 

“There’s a separate ‘Sent’ folder for those emails, called ‘Belongings’,” said Andrew, “just so we can keep them in a different place for ease of accessibility.”

 

Annette navigated to the folder, which had 30 emails in it, but only four were from the last 2 months.

 

PC Smythe made a note of the addresses and then checked the list of Room 8 occupants – there was only one match, a Miss Hemsworth, who had stayed for 3 nights a month previously. She had apparently left behind her toilet bag, which was largely empty apart from toothpaste and some face cream.

 

“Did this woman reply?” asked Knowles.

 

“She said she was planning on returning in February, so could we please hold on to the bag for her.”

“And where is it now?” asked Knowles.

 

“It’s in the cupboard in the laundry room,” replied Andrew.

 

“Can we have a look at the item?” said Knowles.

 

“I will bring it out for you,” said Annette.

 

“The snow is coming down quite heavily now,” said Andrew staring out of the window by the front door, “the lines might well come down in all this – how should we contact you, Inspector, should anything happen?”

 

“I will come back on my way home this evening and give you a visit then,” said Knowles.

 

“Here is the bag, Inspector, as you can see it’s nothing remarkable,” said Annette nonetheless placing the item on the reception desk with some reverence.

 

“It looks like a man’s not a woman’s” said Smythe looking distinctly unimpressed at the black bag in front of her.

 

“Let’s look inside,” said Knowles, acting as though he was unwrapping a Christmas present for a child. He unzipped the top and pulled back the flap. He decided not to touch the toothbrush inside, but took out the pot of face cream. He gradually unscrewed the lid and looked disappointed when he saw the inside was mainly empty.

 

“How many applications of cream are in there?” he asked, looking bemused, “why would she not just ask you to keep the bag, but throw away the contents?”

 

“Perhaps she’s an all-or-nothing kind of girl,” observed Smythe.

 

“Does anti-aging cream go off, does it itself age?” asked Knowles.

 

“There will be a best by date,” said Smythe, “but it will still work effectively for many years to come, particularly a good quality brand like this.”

 

“Thank you, Linda,” said Knowles, “I hadn’t appreciated that.”

 

“It’s hard to believe she would wait three months to come back for this, though,” continue Smythe, “it’s readily available in most shops.”

 

“I will have to think about that,” said Knowles looking meaningfully at Smythe, “and I think I have an answer for you, but it will wait.”