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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Smythe looked at Knowles and understood his meaning, so she just nodded and smiled.

“Well, Inspector Knowles, did you want to interview anyone else?” asked Andrew.

 

“I think later in the day,” replied Knowles, “I am not sure that I want to speak to anyone until I have more information on their background and on that basis I think it’s about time we left, so I will see you later in the day.”

 

Back in the Landrover, Knowles changed back into his driving/office footwear and turned the key in the ignition. The vehicle chugged into life and Knowles gently engaged first gear and let the rear tyres get a grip on the road surface before pressing his foot on the accelerator. Gradually they moved away uphill towards the horizon through the falling snow.

 

“It will take longer this way,” said Knowles, “but at least we will get back to Scoresby station quickly enough. You should take note of the route and then you will have something to talk to Barnesy about in your idle moments.”

 

“Sergeant Barnes isn’t interested in me, sir, he’s more interested in the fitness instructor at the gym down the road from the station.” Smythe seemed rather glum even in red wellingtons.

 

“Barnesy’s interested in a bloke?”

 

“No, sir, she’s a woman and he reckons he’s on to a winner there.”

 

“What that blonde? You have no fears there, Linda, she’s in a same-sex relationship with a traffic warden from the council.”

 

“You’re joking…”

 

Knowles shook his head.

 

“Really, a traffic warden? How do you know?”

 

“I keep my eyes open Linda, that’s all – I have seen them shopping in the Pet Shop on Flixton Road – they have two doggies, apparently.”

 

“Are the dogs the same sex too?”

 

“Might be, anyway now you have noticeably cheered up, what do you reckon regarding the Frisby Hill Hotel?”

 

“Well, sir, given your behaviour I would say that Miss Hemsworth left something else in Room 8 besides her toilet bag. Presumably she left that behind so the hotel would contact her and if they didn’t mention the other item, she’d know the hotel hadn’t found the hiding place of that item.”

 

“Good thinking, Linda, I agree with you – there is one thing though – Wendy Hoxton might have taken the item, you know found it and not said anything.”

 

“We’ll see if she’s done anything like that before then, when the records come through,” replied Smythe.

 

“We will – what I can’t work out is where Miss Baxter has gone; she might have been responsible for the tracks we followed of course, but it would appear she has gone for a walk without telling anyone.”

 

“Someone was keen to have a view of the river,” said Smythe, “and I wonder if that person was responsible for the stealing of Mr James’s wallet?”

 

“I think so and it’s not Miss Baxter who’s done that either; she was somewhere else.”

 

“And what about Room 8? Who was in there, sir?”

 

“I think Miss Baxter leaving early may have spooked the searchers, or the searcher, and they decided to leave their work incomplete, unless they found what they were looking for, of course. Miss Baxter is in Room 4, directly beneath Room 8.”  

 

“And where is Mr Wooster?” asked Smythe.

 

“That is what concerns me the most, because my guess is that Mr Wooster was going to find what Miss Hemsworth had left behind, but he never made it to the hotel, so my question would be – where is he? Hopefully, not under a snowbank somewhere.”

 

“And are the hotel staff all legitimate, do you reckon?”

 

“I think so, I’ve not heard anything to the contrary, anyway I have to concentrate on this part of the road as it’s a bit slippery hereabouts.”

 

“You’re OK, though?”

 

“Oh yes and what’s more so is the Landrover, so need to worry, Linda.”

 

Smythe watched the horizon as she’d learned to do when crossing the English Channel when the water became choppy and, after what seemed like an age, they were down by the river where the water was flowing languidly as though weighed down by the oppressive sky. There was more snow to fall.

 

“Are you really going back there later, sir?” asked Smythe.