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.
“Thank you, Inspector,” said Wanda, “we will let her know.” She stood up and waited for Anne to stand and then held her arm as they walked out together.
Knowles looked out of the window and saw that if anyone walked down that side of the hotel, they would be seen by anyone looking out of either this window or the window in The Lounge. But then he noticed something in the shed window and walked back to the table to jot down something in his notebook, something he should check when the interviews were over.
“Inspector Knowles?” asked a voice.
Knowles looked up and saw Miss Baxter standing there. She was slim with black hair coloured with a tinge of purple. About five feet seven inches high, Miss Baxter had piercing blue eyes. Her shoes were showy and yet practical, with no marks from the snow on them. She was holding a large drink, possibly a G&T.
“Indeed, yes, Miss Baxter, I am Inspector Knowles. Please do sit down.”
They sat down opposite each other. Knowles looked into the blue eyes and asked “Rather than Miss Baxter, what should I call you?”
“Well, my name is Penny, Inspector, so you could call me Penny.”
“Penny – it is, you went for a very long walk this morning, going out of your bedroom window and coming back again around 6 hours later. Why did you climb out of the window instead of using the front door like other people?”
“Well, Inspector, I had arranged to meet some people quite early in Frisby Magna and I didn’t want to wake up anyone else, so I used the window. The other people, my maternal grandparents, couldn’t make it up to the hotel, so I walked down to see them.”
“Where did you meet them in Frisby?”
“They were in their car so we drove quite carefully into Scoresby and had breakfast at the Lilacs Tea Room and then pottered around the town, doing a little bit of Christmas shopping, before coming back to Frisby Magna and I came back up the path and in through the front door of the hotel. I must say the council does a good job of keeping the road open along by the river.”
“The Lilacs Tea Room does a great breakfast, which option did you have?”
“It was the…” Miss Baxter looked in her wallet and took out the till receipt, “…the English Special Breakfast, which almost overflowed the plate. It was wonderful although I was glad of the exercise afterwards, which meant I walked off some of the calories.”
“I know what you mean – If I have their English breakfast I don’t need a lunch and not much of a dinner,” said Knowles smiling and remembering when he did have lunch and dinner after the breakfast. Those days were long gone as was nearly 20 pounds in weight. “Do you mind if I look at your receipt?”
Miss Baxter smiled and handed over the receipt and then put it back in her wallet when it was returned to her. Knowles made a note of the date and time of the breakfast.
“Penny, was today’s use of the window the first time you’d used the window or had you practised before?”
“I’d used it the previous evening, Inspector, just as a test for me and my new wellies, which I bought at the weekend. I walked to the stile, then along the path towards the woods and then cut through to the road, past that woodcutter’s hut or whatever it is and back to my window.”
“Do you put your wellies on before you go out of the window or when you are outside?”
“I sit on the window ledge outside and put them on there, rather than treading the snow into the carpet.”
“That is very considerate of you,” said Knowles, “and what size are your wellies?”
“They are size 6,” said Miss Baxter, “I have smallish feet.” She finished her drink.
“Did you see any other prints out there?”
“I didn’t, but then I wasn’t looking for any, I was enjoying being outside after being on the bus for most of the day.”
“You caught the express bus to Scoresby and then got the local service up the hill?” asked Knowles.
“Yes, the snow had only just started when the bus dropped me off at the stop at 3:30 p.m.; two hours later and I wouldn’t have got here.”
“No, you wouldn’t, as that was the last bus up the hill as it’s a two-hourly service,” agreed Knowles, “and what other plans do you have for your stay?”
“I am leaving on Saturday, unless we’re snowed in completely, and so I was going to walk around the hill here and perhaps go down to the river on Thursday. I have arranged to see my grandparents on Friday and to go and have dinner with them. They live in Rushton Mallory.”