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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Adelaide took the glass and drained the contents in one. “Ah that’s better, Inspector,” she said, handing the glass back “we should be getting back, Betty will be getting worried about us.”

Knowles watched as Adelaide carried Bingo back over the stile. Bingo’s barks gradually faded as he and his amazing owner headed back down the hill to Frisby Magna. Knowles felt quite energetic and wondered what was in the dog treats.

 

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An hour later, Knowles’s head had just about stopped throbbing. He had soaked in a hot bath in Room 8’s bathroom for about 30 minutes and the cold had just about left his bones. He wondered who had hit him over the head, because whoever it was must have been desperate to stop him looking in the hut. When he caught whomever it was, he would be charging them with attempted murder.

 

Knowles looked at the clothes he’d selected from those left behind by former guests of the hotel and could see why, in most cases, they’d not been taken away. He’d selected brown trousers, striped boxer shorts, green socks, an Argyle-patterned shirt and a yellow jumper, hopefully not all left by the same person. He put his shower cap aside and got out of the bath, towelling himself off quickly so as not to catch a chill.

 

After dressing, Knowles headed down to the reception and picked up the satellite phone. He took it back to Room 8, but even with the window open he couldn’t make it work. He hoped his Plan B of Adelaide Hills would work even though Sergeant Barnes would have been coming to the hotel anyway, as previously agreed. He knew that Mrs Hills would make things sound quite serious.

 

Knowles went downstairs and wondered which guests knew he’d been attacked. He guessed all of them by now as at least one guest saw him walking through The Lounge. Knowles looked in the airing cupboard and saw three pairs of boots. He took a picture of each pair individually with his phone and put the boots back where he’d found them.

 

He asked Wendy at reception to keep an eye on the airing cupboard and to let him know who claimed those boots. She agreed and complimented him on his sartorial elegance. Knowles laughed for the first time in a few hours.

 

Knowles sought out Andrew Croft in the dining room and showed him the pictures of the boots. Andrew said Knowles should send the images to the hotel email address, so they could be printed off and then used for comparison purposes. Knowles did this and all of a sudden felt very hungry.

 

“Inspector Knowles, would you like to join me?” asked Penny Baxter, who was half way through a bottle of red wine.

 

“Thank you, Penny,” Knowles said sitting down and casting a glance at the bottle.

 

“I suspect none of the others would have asked you,” replied Penny, “they’ve all got something to hide.”

 

“Most of them have,” replied Knowles, “and one of them hit me over the back of the head with a tree branch a couple of hours ago, but no hard feelings I suppose.”

 

“Any idea who it was?” asked Penny, mischievously.

 

“Well, I have an inkling, but I can’t prove anything,” said Knowles, rubbing the back of his head gingerly, “I will charge them with attempted murder when this is all over.”

 

“Here, have some red wine, Inspector,” said Penny, “to help cheer you up.”

 

Knowles put his hand over the top of the spare glass on the table – “No, I don’t want to have any more of a headache than I already have, so another occasion perhaps?”

 

Penny Baxter withdrew the bottle and allowed some more wine to fall in to her own glass instead.

 

“What would you recommend on the menu,” enquired Knowles, “looking at the array of options is bewildering.”

 

“I had the sole meuniere yesterday and it was absolutely gorgeous,” replied Penny, “and this evening I will be having the penne arrabiata.”

 

“You like spicy food?”

 

“I can do,” replied Penny, “this being England, I am sure it won’t be too spicy.”

 

“Don’t you believe it,” replied Knowles, “the influence of Indian cuisine has meant our tastes have been stretched in many ways in this country, so you might be in for a surprise.”

 

“I’m all for surprises,” said Penny knocking back her wine.

 

“How are you feeling, Inspector?” asked Andrew Croft who was doing his rounds of the tables in his capacity as host.

 

“I feel not so bad,” said Knowles, “almost like I have a slight hangover, so I should avoid alcohol this evening.”

 

“It was a nasty smack on the head, almost like you’d been hit by someone wielding a cricket bat,” said Croft.

 

“I am feeling somewhat hungry though,” said Knowles, “is the waitress taking orders?”