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.
“A nice part of the world, a nice part of the world,” said Knowles, chewing his pen, “have you noticed any odd or strange going on around the hotel either inside or outside?”
“You mean people using their windows as the front door?” said Miss Baxter smiling.
“That sort of thing,” replied Knowles nodding his head.
“Well, there are some hardy people in this area,” said Miss Baxter, “when I was out on Tuesday evening, testing my boots, there was someone in the woods, near that hut or shed or whatever it is. I didn’t get a good view of them and then this morning I thought I smelt cigarette smoke in the woods when I was heading down to Frisby Magna about 7 a.m.”
“What time did you see the figure last night?”
“It would have been around 6:30 ish,” said Miss Baxter.
Knowles frowned and made an entry in his notebook.
“Well, that’s all I have for now,” said Knowles, “could you ask Mr Aneurin James to come in and see me, please? After I have interviewed everyone, I will go and have a look at that hut and see what’s in it.”
Miss Baxter smiled and picked up her glass – “Time for another before dinner, I think,” she said and left the room.
Knowles wondered what her bar tab would be for the week. Aneurin James appeared and sat down quickly at the table.
“That was quick,” said Knowles.
“I was waiting,” said James, “you’re taking the guests in reverse order of their room numbers, so I knew I would be next and I was waiting, patiently, just down the hallway, out of earshot mind, I didn’t hear anything.”
“Well worked out,” said Knowles, “we’ve spoken already about your missing wallet, so I won’t keep you for long – what have you done with yourself today, Mr James?”
“I haven’t done much – I borrowed some wellington boots from the hotel and walked around the field just over the stile and then walked the other way up the road, although it was so deep in places that with one false step I could have disappeared without trace, I tried to keep to the middle of the road, but even there it was up to my knees.”
“Did you have a nice view from up there,” asked Knowles, “a nice view of the river and the fields?”
“I did, Inspector, although it was slightly obscured by the falling snow, of course.”
“Of course,” said Knowles, “and then when you came back, did you read your book?”
“I did and very interesting it is too.”
“Why are you here at the hotel?” asked Knowles.
“I am trying to get away from it all for a few days, like most people here,” replied James.
“No other reason than that? Has any member of your family stayed here recently?”
“They haven’t stayed here at all,” replied James, “they prefer to go abroad and lie on a beach in the sun, so this would be the antithesis of their ideal holiday.”
“Would it now,” asked Knowles, “well thank you for your time, Mr James, you know who you should ask to come in next, you will already have worked that out.”
Mr James stood up and walked slowly out of the room. Knowles wrote down a paragraph of items to check and then looked up just as Mr and Mrs Smith came in.
“Do sit down,” said Knowles gesturing to the seats opposite him.
Brian Smith sat down first and then pushed the other chair backwards to allow Candy Smith to sit down.
“Mr and Mrs Smith, you are from Castle Bromwich, is that correct?”
“Yes, Inspector,” said Brian Smith.
“We have done a background check on you…” said Knowles. Candy looked anxiously at Brian who smiled. Knowles continued “…and you, Mrs Smith, should rightly be called Samantha and you are in fact supposed to be in Antigua at the moment, so how is it you are in two places at the same time?”
“I am not Samantha,” said Candy, “and I am not his wife, I am his Executive Assistant and we are enjoying some time together while the monster fries on a beach.”
“She’s not a monster,” said Brian flashing a glance at Candy, “but she will try and take me for all that I have when she files for divorce, which is why those two private detectives are here watching us and listening to us.”
“What’s the preoccupation with putting together jigsaw puzzles?” asked Knowles.
“It is a business opportunity we’re looking at, people putting their holiday images on a jigsaw and then my business will cut the wood/thick cardboard into however many pieces they want, before sending it back.”