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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“I suspect they meant to finish me off – anyway it doesn’t bear thinking about; let’s see what we can find along the way.”

 

The prints were quite well preserved in the undergrowth as the snow couldn’t penetrate the evergreen canopy in places. Deciduous trees had been planted along the borders of the wood, but the central core was mainly evergreens. In a couple of places, both sets of prints were remarkably well preserved. Knowles tied a pink ribbon to a stick and jammed it into the ground. When Forensics could get up here, those prints would be most useful. After three hundred yards, they saw the hut.

 

Barnes took out a pair of small binoculars and looked at the front door.

 

“Footprints in and out of the door, which is not locked, sir” he said, “there doesn’t appear to be anyone inside, I don’t see any movement.”

 

“What about in the rest of the wood, can you see anyone else?”  

 

Barnes scanned around – “I don’t see anything at all and I can’t hear anyone, I think the coast is clear.”

 

“Let’s approach from the left and look inside through that largish window,” suggested Knowles, “let’s try to keep a low profile, just in case our friend is still at home.”

 

“Sounds good to me,” replied Barnes, following Knowles and trying not to smile. Knowles’s wellingtons would have been seen by anyone in the hut from a mile off, but this was not the right time to mention this.

 

They arrived by the window and peered inside. A lock was hanging from the inside of the door. A plate and cup were on an upturned box and some discarded food wrappers were on the floor.

 

“Someone was staying here, but of their own free will,” said Knowles, “let’s look inside and see if we can find anything.”

 

Whoever had been staying had left in a hurry – a cleaner area on the floor indicated where a sleeping bag had been laid and some rings in the dust on the shelf showed that tins of food had been put out.

 

“That’s a homely touch, putting cans on a shelf,” said Barnes, “I think this person is missing the comforts of home.”

 

“Yes, I wonder where he has taken his cans and sleeping bag?”

 

“We should go and find a signal for our phones, sir,” said Barnes, “my guess would be that whomever was here went somewhere else pretty quickly, almost certainly Clarke’s barn, but they’re probably not there now as it’s the obvious place to go.”