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.
“I didn’t recognise the person at all,” said Mrs Bird, “it wasn’t one of the guests as they were all in The Lounge.”
“All the guests?” asked Knowles, “are you sure about that?”
“Yes, I am,” said Mrs Bird, “although I am not 100% sure whether all the staff were. The cooks were presumably not there. The receptionist was at reception as we spoke to her about what I’d seen.”
“Wait though,” said Mr Bird, “we saw Mr James coming back from the airing cupboard didn’t we, so it couldn’t have been him, and I can remember the other couples, but I don’t remember Miss Baxter being there at that time.”
Knowles scribbled some words down and thanked the Birds for their time.
Just as they were leaving he said – “By the way, please don’t try and escape from the hotel as I am sure we will be able to track you down.”
“He’s not being serious, is he?” asked Mrs Bird.
“I think he is,” replied Mr Bird, “you see we have little chance in this police state of having any freedom.”
With that they traipsed back to the bar. Knowles went to find Andrew and Annette, who were at reception. He informed them that The Jones’s really were The Birds, near neighbours of the Jones’s. Knowles advised the owners to establish how The Birds were intending to settle their bills and to accept either cash or a credit card in their real name. He indicated the police would pick up The Birds on the following day to take them to Scoresby Police Station.
It was now 6 p.m. and Knowles thought it was time he went to investigate the hut in the woods. He found his outdoor jacket and put on his wellies. He told the owners, he was going to the Landrover and then going to have a look around the area, including the hut in the trees near the road.
Knowles headed out into the swirling snow. The wind was blowing quite hard as he walked towards the car park. He thought he heard a noise, like a door closing, behind him, but when he looked around there was no one to be seen. He reached the Landrover and inspected it closely; nothing had been tampered with, although the snow almost reached the top of the tyres. He would still be able to drive away, if necessary. He walked past the semi-collapsed stone wall and saw the hut ahead. He looked down on the ground and saw no prints at all. The hut was made from stone and had a corrugated iron roof. Moss grew on most surfaces. The glass in the windows was mainly intact, although a couple of panes had been shot at by airgun pellets and were semi-shattered. Knowles thought he heard a noise inside the hut. He went to try and open the door and then everything became an inky blackness.
The next thing Knowles knew was that hot air was being blown into his ear and something warm and sticky was caressing his face. The back of his head hurt like hell and he could feel some matted blood at the base of his neck. He opened an eye and saw a dog standing over him looking very pleased with itself. The dog looked vaguely familiar. Snow was still falling. He looked around with both eyes and saw he was lying on the edge of some woods by a field. His watch said 7:30 p.m.
“Bingo, Bingo, where are you?” shouted a familiar voice. The dog barked loudly and ran off. “Am I in Goat Parva?” thought Knowles and his head began to throb. He tried to stand up, but his head span and he fell in a crumpled heap.
The dog came running and stood over him barking loudly. Each bark sounded like a gong being struck to Knowles.
“What is it boy?” said the voice, and there was a shriek. “Bingo, you have to stop doing this”. Adelaide Hills brought herself under control and said matter-of-factly, “Bingo, because you have found this body, we shall have to go back to Betty’s and phone that nice Inspector Knowles and tell him all about it.”
“Actually,” said Knowles from the ground, “that nice Inspector Knowles is already here, in fact that nice Inspector Knowles is the body on this occasion. Thank you, Bingo, what a lovely dog you are. Now, Adelaide, tell me where are we?”
“We are on the Black Hill near Frisby Magna,” replied Adelaide.
“And you have walked all the way from Goat Parva in this weather?”
“Oh no, I drove over here by the river road to see my friend Betty, but Bingo needed a walk didn’t you Bingo, yes you did…” Bingo barked and jumped around enthusiastically and even though his head hurt, Knowles smiled.
“Adelaide can you look at the back of my head using your torch and see what the damage is?”
Adelaide Hill did as she was asked – “You’ve been hit on the back of the head with a blunt instrument by the looks of it.”
“Yes, I thought as much,” said Knowles with a large hint of irony.
“Just stay still, Inspector, I will clean the wound with some snow, it would appear you have been dragged along the ground for a few yards. I will use my scarf as a bandage.”
“Can you shine your torch over there?” said Knowles after Adelaide Hills had finished her bandaging.