William F. Deeck

GAVIN HOLT – Six Minutes Past Twelve. Prof. Luther Bastion #1. Hodder & Stoughton, UK, hardcover, 1928. No US edition.

   Luther Bastion, O.B.E., D.Sc., F.R.S., F.A.S.L., and Major Kettering-Bevis, D.S.O. only, are holidaying in the country after strenuous travel abroad. The man from whom they are renting their cottage, Samuel Dubeyne, a chap who is the company promoter personified, is found one morning partly in the local creek, shot to death with the pistol by his side, a definite, according to the police, suicide. Professor Bastion, however, has other ideas.

   Well, of course, the Professor is correct. He and the Major, with the Major protesting occasionally, begin their own investigation, and they discover that Dubeyne was a thorough scoundrel, that he was murdered, and that many people had reasonable cause to do him in.

   For a time, the Professor and the Major work with the police, but then their ways part, somewhat against the Major’s wishes. The Professor knows, or is guessing, more than he is telling, and he wraps the case up to his own, though certainly not the police’s, satisfaction. He is also not above a spot of burglary and concealing evidence.

   This is not a fair-play novel. Much information is withheld from the reader. Several people who were not known about before are brought in at the end. But the enjoyment in the book should come through following the investigations and the machinations of the Professor, with the Major travelling along behind physically and mentally.

— Reprinted from CADS 13, February 1990. Email Geoff Bradley for subscription information.

Bio-Bibliographic Notes:   There were sixteen Professor Bastion novels to follow, the last appearing in 1936. Gavin Holt was the pseudonym of Charles Rodda, (1891-1976); he also wrote mysteries as by Gardner Low and Eliot Reed.