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.
Andrew and Annette arrived holding hands.
“Shall we start then, Inspector?” asked Annette.
“Yes, good idea, please can you and Andrew come into the dining room?”
Andrew and Annette sat down opposite Knowles. The Inspector was looking towards the window through which he could see the woodpile and shed. Knowles saw a cat jumping onto the shed roof. Albert was on the move for an evening’s undisturbed sleep on the workbench. The lights flickered and Andrew lit the candle on the table with a cigarette lighter.
“You have been here around four years,” began Knowles, “what prompted you to move here?”
“Well,” began Annette, “this seemed like a great opportunity for us to expand into a more upmarket location, slightly away from it all, with a good restaurant and bar too. Our previous place near Hereford didn’t have either, just a dining room where we could provide dinner, whereas here there’s scope for attracting visitors at both lunch and dinner. The bar has some good ales and we get people driving here just to sample those…”
“…though, of course, we wouldn’t provide any more than two pints to someone who was driving,” interjected Andrew.
“Of course,” said Knowles, “I saw your designated driver scheme in the bar and I think it’s a good idea. So the chefs came with you or shortly afterwards?”
“Yes,” said Andrew, “Mathilde’s divorce was finalised about a week prior to us moving here. She wanted to move away. We knew of her food, so it seemed like an ideal match.”
“Indeed,” said Knowles, “the timing was almost perfect. Did you find this hotel before hearing of Mathilde’s divorce?”
“Well,” said Annette, “the divorce was in process for a few months, so we most likely found the hotel after we knew about the divorce.”
“These footprints outside, you measured them Andrew, and said they were a size 8, but not the size 8 wellingtons from the room at the back, so do you think it’s someone at the hotel or someone outside?”
“I have no idea, Inspector Knowles, the only way to find out would be to search people’s rooms and then find a pair of wellies, but there’s no way to prove they were the ones used yesterday.”
“But do people walk past the hotel in all weathers?”
“You would be surprised, Inspector,” said Annette, “there are some hardy people in these parts. Farmer Clarke walks along his fields in all weathers. The farmer on the other side of the hill, towards Peatling Astley…”
“…Mr Griffiths,” added Andrew.
“Yes, him, he thinks nothing of walking down the hill into Frisby Magna for a couple of pints of ale in the evening. It might have been him.”
“There’s a shed about 100 yards from the car park,” continued Knowles, “who does that belong to?”
“It’s in the woods and not on our land,” said Andrew, “and so it’s the responsibility of the local council, I believe.”
“What’s in it, any ideas?”
“Not sure, I think it was used for keeping wood chopping supplies in, back when councils used to keep up the woodlands and collect fallen sticks and branches for local families to use on their fires,” replied Andrew.
“Is that where you get your firewood from?” asked Knowles.
“Some of it Inspector,” replied Annette, “we only have fires between November and mid-March, so we tend to use up the sticks and branches we’ve collected from the woods by January, so we buy in the blocks from the garden centre for the last two months.”
“I will go and check that shed later,” said Knowles, “just to make sure no one is using it as a hideaway or is hiding something away in there.”
“You leave no stone unturned, do you?” said Andrew.
“Well, there’s not much else to check in this snow – when it melts some secrets may be revealed to us; until then we have to wait.”
“What were you thinking of?” asked Annette.
“Nothing in particular, but Mr Wooster was intending to come here and he hasn’t made it yet, so he has to be somewhere.”
“You think he might be under the snow?” Andrew sounded horrified.
“I hope not, I really do, but he should have been here by now, you know.”
Annette and Andrew looked at each other a little sadly.