The Perfect Murder: The First Inspector Ghote Mystery by H R F Keating
|The Perfect Murder: The First Inspector Ghote Mystery by H R F Keating|
|Reviewer: Robin Leggett|
|Summary: First published in 1964, HRF Keating strangely decided to set his detective stories in India despite never having been there. You would never know from reading the books though in this genteel crime series.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 288||Date: April 2011|
|Publisher: Penguin Classics|
'The Perfect Murder' was the first of HRF Keating's Inspector Ghote mysteries, first published in 1964. It has a kind of gentle charm and has some things in its favour, not least the believable Indian setting when the author had not visited the country in which he chose to set his character at a time when research would have been more difficult than it would today.
As Alexander McCall Smith points out in his very brief introduction, Ghote's quirk is that he doesn't have a quirk - this is about the only significant observation McCall makes. Ghote is an everyman. Today we are used to investigators having some distinctive character trait - but Ghote just wants to do things by the book and is thwarted by his victims and the system in which he operates. Here he has three "number one priorities" - solving an attack on a secretary of a rich industrialist, looking after a Swedish Unesco representative showing the best of the Indian police force and the theft of one rupee from the minister of the Police.
If it were a movie it would be one of the black and white Sunday afternoon jobs. It's perfectly amiable and is free of any violence or bad language that pervades much of the genre today. But also the pace is desperately slow. Neither does it have the complexity of plotting that, say Agatha Christie had. In fact, most of the clues are there for all to see - which in fact is a strength as there is nothing more annoying than a mystery writer whose reveal includes something the reader could never have seen coming.
It would be suitable for younger readers as there's little to set the pulse racing here and it's all very genteel. For my taste it was just too slow. But if you are looking for a nice gentle read, this may suit you and there are plenty more in the series to keep you entertained if this is to your taste.
For a more recent Indian crime story, you might enjoy A Dead Hand: A Crime in Calcutta by Paul Theroux.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Perfect Murder: The First Inspector Ghote Mystery by H R F Keating at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Perfect Murder: The First Inspector Ghote Mystery by H R F Keating at Amazon.com.
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