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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“We’re thinking of numbering the pieces on the back,” said Candy, “so that people can put the jigsaw together on the blank side and then turn it over to see the picture complete for the first time. This way they have two options, one to see it complete, or two build the picture gradually.”

 

“How will they turn it over?” asked Knowles.

 

“We’ll include two pieces of thin wood in the box,” said Brian, “and then when they build it face down they will put the pieces of the jigsaw on one piece of wood and then when it’s complete, put the other piece of wood on top and then flip it over, to see the complete picture for the first time.”

 

“Sounds a good idea and explains your fascination with jigsaws. What did you do today?”

 

“Brian doesn’t like the snow, but I persuaded him to go outside and have a snowball fight, which was fun and then we headed to the woods to have a look around.”

 

“We borrowed some of the wellingtons from the hotel,” explained Brian, “they have plenty of choice, thankfully.”

 

“Right, have you noticed anything odd going on around here?” asked Knowles.

 

“We’ve noticed we’re being watched, of course, but otherwise I haven’t seen anything odd, other than Mr James seems very uneasy and has to get up and move around every 15 minutes or so,” said Brian.

 

“You haven’t been outside in the snow and seen anyone else around, other than the other hotel guests?”

 

“No,” said Candy, “we saw the two ladies throwing snow at each other and Mr James wandering along the road.”

 

“And Miss Baxter as she came back up the hill from the village down by the river,” continued Brian Smith.

 

“What time was that?” asked Knowles.

 

“It was about 1 o’clock,” replied Brian, “she looked happy with life and smiled at us.”

 

“Thank you for your time,” said Knowles, “can you ask the Jones’s to come in please?”  

 

Brian and Candy stood up and Brian opened the door for Candy to leave first.

 

Knowles wrote a few words and then waited for the Jones’s to arrive.

After two minutes, Mr and Mrs Jones entered the dining room and sat down opposite Knowles.

 

“We can explain,” said Mr Jones, “we aren’t Mr and Mrs Jones, we are their next door neighbours in Edgbaston and we were being deceitful, but we never expected the police to turn up at the hotel and wreck our plans. We took a chequebook from their house, when we were looking after it when they were in Bali a month ago. You have spoiled everything for us.”

 

“Well, I would apologise, but I believe that you are committing a crime or actually more than one crime, so I have no sympathy for you – you will be arrested when you and I are able to leave the hotel – what is your true identity,” replied Knowles.

 

“See, I told you he’d take that attitude,” said Mrs Jones, “I knew you shouldn’t have said anything, we might have got away with it.”

 

“I already knew you weren’t who you claimed to be, because the Jones family are roughly twenty years younger than you are,” said Knowles, “so please don’t think you were getting away with anything. Now, what are your names?”

 

“We are Sydney and Fiona Bird,” said Mr Bird.

 

“What number on Bromwich Road do you live at?’ asked Knowles.

 

“He even knows the road,” said Mrs Bird, “we are living in a police state, you were so right when you said that.”

 

Mr Bird nodded and said “27.”

 

“Thank you Mr and Mrs Bird, when we leave the hotel together you will be formally charged at Scoresby police station with theft, intention to commit fraud, and impersonation. You will be read your rights when you are cautioned. Now, have you seen anything odd going on at the hotel or in the grounds of the hotel? Is anyone else pretending to be someone they are not?”

 

“Well, Fiona, thought she saw someone walking down the side of the hotel after dinner last night at 9:55 p.m.

 

“After dinner?” asked Knowles.

 

“I did see someone, after dinner, walking down the side of the hotel towards the stile at the bottom of the garden,” said Mrs Bird, “and the time was 9:55 p.m.”

 

“Right, well that’s understood then,” said Knowles, “and who was this person, any ideas?”