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.
“It was quite bad down there…I can see the road from my window and the lights were flashing in the darkness.”
“Did you see anyone walking around outside when you were looking out?”
“I saw Andrew walking around outside with his red waterproof on; he walked down the side of the hotel and then came back and walked around the other side towards the road.”
“What time was this?”
“About 6 p.m.” Wendy waved her hand from side to side, indicating this was an approximate time.
“That’s two things I have to ask him,” said Knowles, “whereas I have just one final question for you – have you heard anything odd or seen people behaving strangely in the last two days?”
“I have,” said Wendy taking a deep breath in and clasping her hands, “the older couple, the Jones’s from Room 1, came to see me at reception yesterday evening. He distracted me by telling me that he’d seen a figure walking around outside and pointing at the window in The Lounge. I think he wanted me to go and have a look through the window, but I had this strange notion that she, Mrs Jones I mean, was no longer around. I looked and she was halfway up the stairs looking towards Room 8. I said something like ‘Your room is down here’ and she replied ‘Oh, so it is, my mistake’ but then she came down the stairs and stood by her ‘husband’ and didn’t go to her room.”
Knowles made a few notes and then looked puzzled.
“She was being a little amateurish wasn’t she, hoping you weren’t going to notice?”
“I suppose she was,” replied Wendy.
“Either that or she has some kind of dementia.”
“I don’t think she has dementia as I served her and her ‘husband’ at dinner about an hour later and she ordered without referring to the menu, so she does have some short-term memory.”
“Right, thank you Wendy, can you ask Roger Scott to come in next?”
Wendy rose and smoothed down her skirt before heading off. In a minute, Roger Scott came into the dining room.
“Could you leave the door ajar, please?” asked Knowles.
Roger Scott did as he was asked. He sat down opposite Knowles with one arm on the back of the chair and the other resting on the table.
“Roger you have worked here for 3 years?”
“Just over,” replied Scott.
“What attracted you to the job?”
“Well, it would be the vision of the owners who want to run a first-class hotel and have a bar where non-residents can come to drink good ales. Have a good reputation on two counts, not just one. The restaurant is also excellent, so that’s even better.”
“Can non-residents eat in the restaurant?”
“They have been allowed to since 1st November this year,” said Scott smiling at Knowles.
“Any you live locally?”
“I do and ride my bike to work along the path from Frisby, that road up the hill is a bit too steep for me, Inspector.”
“I can imagine, it’s too steep for some cars, trust me,” replied Knowles grinning.
“Anything odd going on around here yesterday, last night, this morning?” asked Knowles.
“There were some footprints outside last night,” said Scott, “I saw them when I was getting the wood for the fire. They were coming from the side of the hotel along here…” Scott pointed to the window and then swept his arm to the front,”…coming from the front to the back and not returning; they seemed to be heading for the stile.”
“Were they wellies or hiking boots would you say?”
“By the tread, they were wellies, hiking boots tend to leave deeper tracks as they have a better grip, usually.”
“About what time was this?”
“It was before dinner around 7 p.m.”
“Were all the guests in The Lounge at that time?”