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.
“She is very concerned about it,” said Holmes, “and needs to be sure of what’s going on before opening negotiations, so we have been obtaining some data on her behalf.”
“And you’re in the room above them, of course you are, collecting data,” said Knowles laughing, “did you request that room?”
“We did when we found out the happy couple were going to be in Room 2,” said Benny Scott.
“Enough, the police shouldn’t get involved in divorce cases, so I would just ask you to find the two ladies, Wanda and Anne, and kindly ask them to come here to see me, thank you.”
Knowles thought about what he would do after the interviews. He wanted to check the shed in the woods, but thought he might eat dinner at the hotel first, as he was beginning to think he would spend the night, perhaps even in Room 8.
Wanda Bowles and Anne Martin came into the dining room smiling and sat down in unison, as though they’d been practising.
“Hello Ladies,” said Knowles, “how are you enjoying your time here?”
“We’re enjoying ourselves, we went into the snow today and had a snowball fight for about 20 minutes, which was fun, and made some of those snow angels, where you lie down in the snow and move your arms and legs around,” said Bowles, “and we’ll probably have another snowball fight tomorrow, and I will hopefully win that one just to even things up.”
“Sounds energetic,” said Knowles, “have you been to the hotel before?”
“No, not together, I was here about two years ago,” replied Martin, “and Wanda was here about three years ago, so we both knew the place from those times.”
Knowles nodded – “do you live together in Coventry?” he asked.
“We do, Inspector, and we have done for about 8 months now,” replied Bowles, “it’s blissful.”
“You do seem very happy, now have you noticed anything strange going on around here; Mr James had his wallet stolen last night and it seems like at least one person has been walking around outside at strange times of the day and night.”
“I’ve not noticed anything, Inspector, what about you Anne?”
“Well, I am not sure, I thought I saw the young woman, Miss Baxter I think her name is, climbing into her room from the outside, last night at around 6 p.m. – I was in the toilets here…” Anne gestured at the door about 10 feet to the left of Knowles, “…as the toilet in the bar was in use, and I heard a noise and peered through the top pane of the window and saw her opening the window. She didn’t see me. At least I don’t think she did.”
“Thank you for that information, Anne, I will keep that confidential, did you see what she was wearing on her feet?”
“I think she was wearing shoes and socks, as I am sure I saw her lower legs.”
“She wasn’t wearing wellies then?” asked Knowles.
“I don’t think she was, no, is that significant?”
“Yes, as she wouldn’t be able to walk very far in her shoes, unless she was going to change into them outside of her room, for some reason.”
“Was she heading in or going out?” asked Wanda, putting her hand on Anne’s arm as an act of reassurance.
“Heading out I think, she was reaching into the room for something, so perhaps she was getting her boots; she had on a red waterproof jacket, I know that. Anyway, I stopped looking at that moment and went back to The Lounge. The snow was falling of course, you could see it through the window coming down quite heavily.”
“Could you see the shed and the woodpile too?”
“Not at that time, no, but I could later,” said Anne smiling, “have I discovered something significant?”
“Possibly, because I don’t think the outside light was on at that time, which might be why you didn’t see Miss Baxter, when she was walking by.”
“I am sure we would have seen her, if she had walked by, unless we were looking at the drinks menu or the dinner menu,” said Wanda.
“Which is what happened, as I picked up two menus on the way back to the table, and we were hungry and looked at them straightaway,” remembered Anne.
“Miss Baxter wouldn’t have been able to see we were otherwise engaged, would she, there’s no way she could have known and walked by deliberately at that time?” replied Wanda.
“Well, the fact is you didn’t see her, if she walked by at all, so only she would know whether it was intentional or not. I will ask her, in fact, I will ask her right now, so it would be great if you could let her know I would like to see her. Thank you for your time.”