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Inspector Zhang walked slowly down the corridor. He was wearing his second-best grey suit and pale yellow silk tie with light blue squares on it that his wife had given him the previous Christmas and his well-polished shoes glistened under the hallway nights. He had been at home when he had received the call and he had dressed quickly, wanting to be first on the scene. It wasn’t every day that a detective got to deal with a murder case in squeaky-clean Singapore.

They reached room Six Three Four and Inspector Zhang knocked on the door. It was opened by a blonde woman in her mid-thirties who glared at him as if he was about to try to sell her life insurance. Inspector Zhang flashed his warrant card. “I am Inspector Zhang of the Singapore Police Force,” he said. “I am with the CID at New Bridge Road.” He nodded at his companion. “This is Detective Sergeant Lee.”

The sergeant took out her warrant card and showed it to the woman who nodded and opened the door wider. “Please come in, we’re trying not to alarm our guests,” she said.

Inspector Zhang and Sergeant Lee slipped into the room and the woman closed the door. There were four other people in the room – a tall Westerner and a stocky Indian wearing black suits, a pretty young Chinese girl also in a black suit and a white-jacketed waiter. The waiter was standing next to a trolley covered with a white cloth.

The woman who had opened the door offered her hand to the inspector. “I am Geraldine Berghuis,” she said, “I am the manager.” She was in her thirties with eyebrows plucked so finely that they were just thin lines above her piercing blue eyes. She was wearing an elegant green suit that looked as if it had been made to measure and there was a string of large pearls around her neck. She had several diamond rings on her fingers but her wedding finger was bare. Inspector Zhang shook her hand. Miss Berghuis gestured at a tall, bald man in an expensive suit. “This is Mr. Christopher Mercier, our head of security.” Mr. Mercier did not offer his hand, but nodded curtly.

The manager waved her hand at the Indian man and the Chinese woman. “Mr. Ramanan and Miss Xue were on the desk tonight,” she said. “They are both assistant managers.”

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