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.
“Do you have any questions for me?” said Knowles.
The couple shook their heads.
“Well, if you have questions, please ask them as soon as you can, now can you send in Wendy please?”
Wendy Hoxton looked rather nervous as she sat down at the table. Knowles smiled to try and set her at her ease, but it didn’t seem to work. Knowles waited until the dining room door was closed before starting.
“Wendy, how are you?”
“I am wondering what you’re going to ask me, Inspector,” replied Wendy.
“What are you expecting me to ask you?”
“You’re going to ask me about my conviction for stealing from a hotel room six years ago.”
“Well, it’s connected with that,” began Knowles, before holding up his finger to his lips. He continued to talk whilst tip-toeing to the door, “I am aware of what’s happened in the past, but I will set that to one side for now.” With that he opened the door to see Mr Jones nonchalantly walking towards The Lounge. Mr Jones did not look back. Knowles looked around and caught sight of a pair of slippers on the first floor landing outside Room 5. The slippers disappeared out of sight. Knowles closed the door.
“Someone is interested in what you’re going to tell me, Wendy, why would that be, do you think?”
“Because they think I took something from that Room,” said Wendy, pointing upstairs. “but they’re wrong and you’re wrong too, because I never did take anything, not today, not at any time in the past.”
“And how do I know you’re telling the truth?” asked Knowles.
“You don’t Inspector, you don’t, but I have learned my lesson and I don’t want to lose my job here.”
“Any ideas about who took the keys that were in the laundry room?”
“I don’t, and I am not even sure when they were taken, but it must have been someone who knew the hotel fairly well, as it was the weekly laundry that afternoon, so the door would have been open between 3 p.m. and 6.”
“All the guests that were here then are still here; I should ask the guests if they have been here before.”
“I don’t believe any of them have, as Mr Croft is very fastidious about these things. But he does ask new customers if the hotel has been recommended to them by someone else who’s visited the hotel.”
“Does he keep a note of this?” asked Knowles leaning forward with interest,
“I am sure he does, somewhere, he likes keeping records,” Wendy looked from side to side, before bringing her head closer to the inspector’s face, “he even keeps records of when…”
Knowles leaned back and held his hand up to stop Wendy gossiping – “Wendy, I hope you can just answer my questions as there are a number of people to interview and only a limited time to conduct those interviews in, so Mr Croft will know if someone recommended the hotel to the guests who are staying here?”
“Yes, Inspector,” said Wendy, brushing some hair behind her left ear before folding her arms.
“Right, good, well I will note that down,” said Knowles, doing just that. “Is there anything you can tell me about last night; did you see anyone near Room 8, hear anyone moving around, hear a window being opened at a strange time? Anything?”
“I slept through the whole night, in the staff room, above Room 5 – they were having sex I believe, judging from the soft moaning sounds, but I fell asleep after about three minutes.”
“And you were on the opposite side of the hotel from Room 8 anyway, so who slept above Room 8?”
“That would have been Roger last night; Andrew and Annette have the room above Room 6 and the two chefs have the room above Room 7; these are two larger rooms as they both live there permanently. I have a flat in Manton Rempville, but I can stay here if I want at no extra cost, which I normally do at this time of year.”
“Very wise, Wendy, how do you normally get here?”
“Sometimes bus, sometimes bike, yesterday my parents dropped me off in mid-afternoon, as the chances were I’d be staying overnight as I was helping to serve the food – given the forecast. There’s a bus stop two hundred yards down the hill.”
“The bus wouldn’t have stopped there last night, it would have kept going, so it was good you thought ahead.”