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.
“Your meal’s being kept warm,” she said between munches and gestured to the kitchen.
Annette saw Knowles and brought out his sole, vegetables, and potatoes. Knowles only realised how hungry he was when he started to eat the fish. The food disappeared quickly and it was only afterwards Knowles wondered whether he’d eaten the food faster than his cat, Freddie, ate his food. Perhaps Freddie was genuinely famished when he ate, perhaps Knowles didn’t feed him enough after all? Penny Baxter was certainly impressed.
“Inspector, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone enjoy a meal so much in my entire life, you looked as though you enjoyed every mouthful, every morsel of food.”
“I did, it was all delightful, although I must admit I could, and should, have savoured it far more than I did. I was just thinking that I could have been lying out in that field, cold and unconscious, but instead I was inside, in the warm, and eating a memorable meal.”
“Any more ideas on who dunnit?” asked Penny finishing off the water.
“I think so,” said Knowles, “but I can’t say anything, can I?”
“I suppose not,” replied Penny, “all I know is that I was in The Lounge and that nice female couple, The Smiths, and The Jones were in there the whole time.”
“How was your penne?” asked Knowles.
“It was slightly spicier than I was expecting and that was a wonderful surprise,” said Penny, “you were right about the English palate.”
“Well, the chefs are French, although they have been in England for a few years, so it’s good you were surprised, it would be boring to live without surprises.”
“Indeed it would, Inspector, indeed it would, here’s to more surprises,” and she downed the last of her wine with gusto.
Knowles held up his empty glass in agreements with Penny’s sentiments.
“How was everything?” asked Annette.
“It was truly wonderful,” replied Knowles and Penny concurred.
“Could I interest you in a liqueur, Inspector, or you Mademoiselle Penny?”
“I would like a Cassis,” said Knowles, “what about you Penny?”
“I will have a Cassis too,” said Penny, “that sounds just the trick.”
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?”