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.
Knowles woke with a start. His head was smarting and his hair needed a wash. He glanced out through the half-open curtains at the whiteness as he headed to the shower. The hot water soothed the aches somewhat. As he dried his hair, he looked outside again and saw a figure running through the woods towards the hotel. It was snowing still, but less intensely. The figure looked vaguely familiar. Knowles got dressed and looked at his watch. 8:30 a.m. – time for breakfast.
He headed downstairs and found the dining room deserted.
“Where is everyone?” he asked Wendy.
“They haven’t made it downstairs, yet, Inspector,” she replied, “what would you like for your breakfast?”
“Oh, toast, two pieces with a poached egg and a cup of Earl Grey, thank you, Wendy.”
Knowles sat where he’d conducted his interviews the previous evening and watched as the runner bounded over the stile and came up to the hotel’s back door. Knowles couldn’t believe he was actually pleased to see DS Barnes. The smack on the head had obviously made him feel vulnerable and he was grateful to have some help. Knowles heard the doorbell ring and saw Annette hurrying towards the door.
“That’s my Detective Sergeant, Annette, could you show him in here please and bring him a strong coffee? He’d probably like a grapefruit segment as well, if that’s possible.”
Annette smiled and continued towards the sound of the ringing bell. Barnes could be quite impatient sometimes. After about 15 seconds he entered the dining room.
“You are alive, by Mrs Hills description you’d have thought you weren’t going to make it through the night. She indicated Bingo gave you mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.”
“Do you mind, I’m trying to eat here, Barnesy. Actually, I do owe that dog a lot, I wouldn’t have lasted the night out there, so he did save my life.”
“No self-respecting cat would have come anywhere near you,” quipped Barnes, “far to cold, far to windy.”
“Yes, they’re more sensible than dogs, anyway, we have an attempted murderer in the hotel, so bear that in….” Knowles’s voice tailed off as Annette brought Barnes a large coffee and a pink grapefruit, lightly drizzled with demerara sugar. She withdrew discreetly with a knowing smile.
“Anyway, we have work to do, Sergeant, someone whacked me with a branch and then carried me to the edge of the field – that’s about 200 – 300 yards.”
“This grapefruit is incredible, there’s just enough demerara on it to make it taste…right, so it was either two people or a very strong man. Was there someone in that hut you were investigating then? Someone known to the attempted murderer and they carried you to an exposed place? The coffee’s great too.”
“How did you know about the hut?” asked Knowles munching his egg and toast.
“Mrs Hills said you were gibbering about the hut when she first guided you back here, you were pointing towards it apparently.”
“It’s what she said, speaking rapidly, but you calmed down after you started chewing Bingo’s dog treat.”
“That woman talks too much, far too much.”
“She’s right then?” asked Barnes.
“She is,” said Knowles drinking his tea.
“How’s your tea, sir?”
“It tastes great,” said Knowles, “I really like how they serve it, with a thin slice of lemon and a little bit of milk.”
“French,” replied Knowles, “French and proud of it.”
“Thoughts on what we do?”
“Well, we have to charge The Jones with fraud as they are in fact The Birds from next door to The Jones; they didn’t hit me over the head, so we should get them out of here as soon as.”
“Might be difficult, there’s another big dump coming about midday, then tomorrow it freezes, before it all melts at the weekend.”
“We should leave today with the Jones if at all possible.” Knowles chewed the last of his toast and shook his head slightly at the quality of the bread. “Everything they do here tastes so good, Barnesy, that bread is outstanding.”
“How was your breakfast gentlemen?” asked Wendy.