Sampler: Murder on Tyneside by Eileen Thornton

 

This story unfolds with speed and continues along, not a dull moment. It is a light-hearted cozy mystery with a dash of romance.

Recently widowed Agnes Lockwood is spending a few days on Tyneside in Northeast England, catching up with her past. When expensive jewelry is stolen at the hotel, Chief Inspector Alan Johnson gets on the case.

After Alan recognizes Agnes as a friend from schooldays, they rekindle their friendship and Agnes bombards him with questions about the case. But after dinner one evening, they find a body lying on the roadside.

Fearing for her safety, Alan warns Agnes to stay away from the case. But being an inquisitive woman, Agnes cannot resist getting involved… too involved.

Eileen Thornton

Sampler: Murder on Tyneside

(Agnes could hear a row going on outside the door of her hotel room) It seemed that the lady had lost a necklace or more to the point, she believed it had been stolen from her room while she was out shopping that afternoon. The gentleman with her didn’t agree. He was trying to calm her down, saying that it couldn’t possibly have been stolen. She must have put it down somewhere and forgotten where.

“You are always doing that, my dear,” the man told her. He spoke slowly, obviously trying to soothe the woman. “Give it some thought while we have dinner, you’ll soon remember where you put it.”

However, the lady wasn’t in the mood to be pacified. “I distinctly remember putting it in the top drawer of the dressing table before we left.” She insisted. “Yet when I went to put it on this evening it was missing. Don’t you realise that the necklace was the one you gave me for our Wedding Anniversary? It must have cost you the earth.”

There was a pause and for one brief moment, Agnes thought they had gone. She was about to open her door when she was suddenly startled by a loud screech from the woman outside.

“Oh my goodness, George; don’t you realise? Someone must have been in our room while we were out.” Her voice became hysterical. “I could have walked in and found some intruder going through our things; I could have been murdered. Call the police right now!”

“Calm down, Angela. There is no need to call the police. No one came into our room…” George began.

But with the thought of an intruder scouring through her personal belongings, Angela was not about to be silenced. “How the hell would you know?” she yelled. “You weren’t even there. You stayed downstairs in the bar with your so-called, business partners.” There was a slight pause. “I want to see the manager – now! Are you coming with me or are you going to sit back and leave everything to me as usual?”

The voices grew faint as the man and woman hurried off down the corridor.

Agnes took the room key out of her bag and stared down at it. It wasn’t an old-fashioned conventional key. It looked more like a credit card, which you placed into a slot on the door. When withdrawn, a green light flashed to tell you the door was unlocked. She recalled the first time she had used this type of key. She and Jim had been staying in a hotel in Las Vegas.

He had been amused at her attempts to unlock the door to their room. “It’s simple,” he’d said. “Slide the card into the slot; remove it and open the door.”

Yet when she tried, a red light appeared and the door had refused to open. Only when Jim explained she was being too hasty in removing the card and needed to slow down, was she able to gain access to the room.

Now she was fine with this new-fangled idea and thought it was probably a lot safer than a standard lock. They could be picked by some unscrupulous guest staying at a hotel.

She looked towards the door and screwed up her eyes as she gathered her thoughts together. So, if there was no lock to pick, how could someone have managed to get into the woman’s hotel room without one of these magic key cards? It wasn’t possible. Unless one of the staff, having seen the lady wearing the necklace sometime during the day, had decided that it might be worth stealing.

Some members of staff had access to what was called a master key card, which opened all the doors to the guest rooms. These were only meant to be used by domestic staff when they serviced the rooms. Was it possible they were kept in a place where they could be accessed by other staff?

Agnes shook her head. For goodness sake, she needed to get a grip. Jim had often said she had read far too many Agatha Christie novels and was always trying to solve a crime when there was no crime to solve.

Perhaps George was right. This Angela, whoever she was, might be the sort of woman who put things down and then forgot about them. He should know. He was probably her husband. If not, then he must know her well enough for them to be sharing a room. Agnes thrust her key back into her bag and hurried down to dinner.

 

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