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.
Two Cassis appeared within a minute. Knowles looked around the restaurant and realised they were the last two people there.
“Are you going to The Lounge, Penny?” asked Knowles.
“I will be calling it a night,” said Penny, “I am suddenly rather weary, tramping about in the snow is more tiring than I realised, so I will see you in the morning. Good night, Inspector Knowles.”
“Good night, Penny Baxter,” said Knowles. He wrote down what Penny had said earlier regarding those present in The Lounge when he was outside.
Knowles ambled to The Lounge and looked around the room. The Smiths were putting together a jigsaw of the Alhambra in Granada, under the watchful eyes of the private eyes. Anne and Wanda were in their favourite chairs by the window looking at the snow swirling around outside. The Bensons were planning a route on a map, presumably for their walk on Thursday. The Jones weren’t around and neither was Aneurin James.
Could the Jones have moved that quickly to the hut? wondered Knowles and discounted the idea almost straightaway, although now the memories were coming back to him, he did remember a noise like a door closing almost as soon as he left the hotel. Except that it might not have been a door, it might have been a window. Knowles sat in an armchair by the fire and smiled at the two women in their seats by the window. The next thing he knew, a hand was shaking him gradually awake.
“Inspector Knowles, wakey wakey,” said Cloda Holmes, “they’ll be throwing a dust blanket over you if you stay any longer, you should go to bed, you’ve had a nasty knock this evening, you should get some rest.”
“Right,” said Knowles, “yes, you are right – speaking of that knock, were the objects of your observations in here between 6 p.m. and dinner time?”
“They didn’t go outside and hit you on the head, if that’s what you mean?” said Cloda, “they were together the whole time and we can vouch for that.”
“That removes four people from my enquiries,” said Knowles, gradually waking up, “anyone else that you can eliminate for me?”
“The ladies by the window,” replied Holmes, “they were in The Lounge enjoying each other’s company.”
“And the Jones were in here?”
“Not at all, they were at dinner, but weren’t in here beforehand. You don’t think they did it, do you?”
“Well, they’re not The Jones per se, they’re The Birds from next door to The Jones, impersonating The Jones and they’re being arrested when we leave here, so they might have, but I doubt either of them move that quickly. The person who hit me, left the hotel after me, and wanted me to not look into the hut out there.”
“The hut?” asked Cloda.
“In the woods, near the road,” said Knowles.
“Oh right, Benny mentioned that just after we arrived.”
“There was someone in that hut, but I can’t work out who it would be and who in the hotel would be wanting to protect them.”
“Could it have been one of the members of staff? It doesn’t have to be a guest does it?”
“It doesn’t, no.”
“Having said that – the barman was here, the chefs were in the kitchen, Andrew and Annette were socialising, and there was someone at reception, at least I assume so.”
“We assume so, we assume the receptionist didn’t slip away for five minutes, we assume the chefs didn’t slip out as one would notice the other was missing, unless they were in this together, we assume the owners wouldn’t say ‘excuse me I am going outside to hit that policeman over the head’. Are you sure the barman didn’t go out to get some wood?”
“He might well have done, but I am not sure he was gone for that long, people are a thirsty lot.”
“But he does that five times a night, people never time him, it would be five minutes to the hut and back.”
“Good point, Inspector, it could have been Roger,” agreed Cloda yawning, “anyway, I am going to bed and I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Good night,” said Knowles looking across the room and seeing Roger Scott drying some glasses. He wondered whether the man had it in him to try and kill someone? Knowles walked over to him and struck up a conversation.
“The hut in the trees, do you know anything about it?”
“I believe it’s council property,” replied Roger, “and that it has a council lock on it. That’s all I know.”
“Really, well I shall go and look again tomorrow, and see if you’re right. And this time I will take someone with me, who will be looking out for me.”