Saturday, August 6, 2011

Inspector Ghote

I have to say first how much I love, love, love this cover. Isn't it gorgeous?

My purchase of The Perfect Murder by H.R.F. Keating was based solely on the cover of the book. I had never heard of the author or the book or the series. Yet again my superficiality led me to good choices. How I love being shallow. It really pays off for me.

The Perfect Murder is the first in a series of detective novels. The detective is the Indian copper Inspector Ghote of the Bombay (now Mumbai) CID. After falling in love with the cover design to find that the murder victim is the elderly private secretary Mr. Perfect cemented my affection. I knew then that this was no crush. It was love.

Mr. Perfect had been employed by Lala Arun Varde a very rich man with influence at the highest levels. It is soon apparent that Mr Varde's distress at his secretary's death is not because of any deep feeling for a fellow man but because he sees the murder as an attack on him by business rivals. The Inspector is assured that any number of people would want to see Varde out of the way. However Varde is unwilling to name names and Ghote is hesitant to push such an important man. it yourself. It is a murder mystery after all.

Since discovering Inspector Ghote I have read the first four books in the series. They are terrific throwbacks to pre-laboratory procedurals. There is no DNA, traced cell phone calls or magical scientifically found evidence. The Inspector gets his man by old fashioned police work: knocking on doors, interviewing suspects, checking alibis, deductive reasoning, common sense, the dogged pursuit of justice and clues. There are bad guys, good guys, a corruption and political posturing. On the local color side Keating packs each novel with a tour of Indian life and culture for the high brow, the low brow and all the brows in between.

The Inspector is a diffident man with a great deal of integrity and a humanistic view of mankind. He does not have a flashy character traits or an unhappy personal life. He's more of a marriage of Maigret and Precious Ramotswe than the current crop of cranky Swedes or moody American gumshoes. Hooray for that. I'm tired of ever more gruesome murders and disturbed killers. I want my victims to be cheating maids, money hungry industrialists or distraught housewives and I want my murderers to be understandable: greedy, jealous or vengeful. Thanks to H.R.F. Keating I can get to read sixteen more excellent mysteries that will meet all my demands.

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