V. C. CLINTON-BADDELEY – Only a Matter of Time.

Dell, paperback reprint; 1st printing, July 1981; Murder Ink Mystery #23. Hardcover edition: William Morrow, 1970. Prior UK edition: Victor Gollancz, hc, 1969; pb reprint: Arrow, 1974.


   Not knowing very much about the author, and assuming that perhaps that you don’t either, I’ve taken the liberty of reproducing the autobiographical blurb that was included at the end of this book:

V. C. Clinton-Baddeley was born in Devon, England. He received an M.A. in history from Jesus College, Cambridge. For a time he was editor of the modern history section of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, but soon turned to theatre and acting and then to radio, where he worked with W. B. Yeats as his poetry reader. His previous writings include works of literary and theatre research, pantomimes, operettas, and plays.

   This explains a lot, and I’ll get to that in a moment. His full name, according to the Revised Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin, was V(ictor Vaughan Reynolds Geraint) C(linton) Clinton-Baddeley, 1900-1970, and his mystery writing career consisted of five detective stories that came out between 1967 and 1972, all featuring Dr. R. V. Davie as his continuing series character. (I’ll list the five books at the end of this review.)


   But what struck me when I was reading Only a Matter of Time was how erudite both the author and his sleuth were, and the brief biographical notes above only confirmed my thoughts. Not in a snobbish way, though. Not at all. The author has a dry if not wry sense of humor that had me smiling if not laughing throughout.

   The novel takes place in a small town called King’s Lacy during a week in the summer when a week-long classical music festival is going on.

   The town also has a multitude of antique and small curio shops, and every so often the murder investigation stops and we (the reader) are treated to a knowledgeable discussion involving something to do with the fine arts. Either major or minor tidbits of information, it doesn’t matter, they’re still a treat.

   There is a slow, leisurely pace to this novel. I mentioned a murder investigation, but the first death is not known until the book is half over, although the victim had disappeared some time before that. Dr. Davie cooperates with the police, but since the second victim was known to him, that is his only rationale for continuing to stay involved.


   As the title suggests, you might be wise to keep close tabs on the timing of events, including watches that stop or run erratically and a church bell that does not chime overnight.

   One definition of a cozy mystery is perhaps one in which no commotion occurs when the murder does, and if so, that makes Only a Matter of Time the perfect example of a cozy mystery. The festival is not canceled, the show goes on, and Dr. Davie continues to take his afternoon nap, right on schedule.

   Overall, then? If you don’t mind leisurely, discursive detective novels with plenty of clues and false leads, this is the perfect one for you to try on for size the next time you’re looking for a book precisely like this one to read.

V. C. CLINTON-BADDELEY. Dr. Davie in all. First UK editions only:

      Death’s Bright Dart (n.) Gollancz 1967.


      My Foe Outstretch�d Beneath the Tree (n.) Gollancz 1968.


      Only a Matter of Time (n.) Gollancz 1969.
      No Case for the Police (n.) Gollancz 1970.
      To Study a Long Silence (n.) Gollancz 1972.