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In the novel At Bertram's Hotel Colonel Derek Luscombe is one of the guardians of Elvira Blake. He is one of three trustees who manage Elvira's inheritance. He lives at Little Green, Suffolk.

Colonel Luscombe's wife had died in childbirth, and the baby boy had been brought up by his wife's family. Colonel Luscombe's elder sister then came to live with him and keep house for him.

By the time of the events of the novel, Colonel Luscombe's son has married and gone to live in Kenya. Colonel Luscombe's grandchildren are eleven, five, and two and a half.

While staying at Bertram's Hotel, Colonel Luscombe occupies Room 14. According to Miss Gorringe, this was a room he had stayed in on a previous visit, and he had liked it, as it was quiet.

Colonel Luscombe wonders how people such as Lady Selina Hazy can afford to stay at Bertram's, and asks Mr Humfries about it. Mr Humfries explains that they are given special rates, because they help to create the atmosphere of the hotel.

Colonel Luscombe is Elvira's godfather, as well as being one of her guardians. However, he does not know her very well, and says that it is difficult for him to know what a girl wants, or ought to have. He finds it easy to entertain his grandchildren, as they are amused by football, space science talk, electric trains, and a ride on his foot. However, he is not used to young girls such as Elvira.

Colonel Luscombe gathers that Ladislaus Malinowski is one of Elvira's heroes. He thinks that Ladislaus is "better than one of those pop singers or crooners or long-haired Beatles or whatever they call themselves." However, he does not realise that Elvira is in love with Ladislaus.

When Richard Egerton suggests that Elvira has a boyfriend, and asks Colonel Luscombe who it is, Colonel Luscombe assures him that Elvira does not have a boyfriend. He says that she has been very carefully brought up, and has attended very strict schools and a very select finishing establishment.

Colonel Luscombe tries to persuade Bess Sedgwick to meet Elvira, telling her that Elvira feels the effect of not knowing her mother, and has asked about her. However, Bess refuses, telling him to keep Elvira away from her.

After the death of Michael Gorman, Elvira believes that someone is trying to kill her. Bess reunites with her, and takes care of her at Bertram's Hotel. This delights Colonel Luscombe.