Monday, 18 April 2011

The Perfect Murder by H R F Keating


DATE READ: April 2011

NOTES: I was first introduced to the Inspector Ghote books over thirty years ago. I overheard a conversation on the London Tube as a passenger praised the books written by an Englishman about an Indian policeman. He said that the author had never visited India and had used a street map of Bombay to help with his plotting. I was intrigued and on returning home I got a couple of Keating’s books from the library. I remember enjoying them at the time but never bothered to seek out any more.

Now some of this series is being re-issued so I was happy to have another look into the life and work of Inspector Ghote. The Perfect Murder has a lot of charm – and Ghote is a great creation. He cares about doing a good job; he wants to be a person of high morals but is all too aware of corruption all around him. The story itself is well plotted and coherent which makes it a very easy read.

The atmosphere of 1960s Bombay “feels” right. But does that mean it is right? As (like most readers) I have not lived any length of time in India but have nonetheless built up a picture of how the country works, how people relate to one another and how they use the English language. But what are the sources of this picture of India? E M Forster? Paul Scott? Kipling? – or Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy, Ruth Prawer Jhabvali and Rohinton Mistry. Do any Indians really talk like Arun Varde with his rhyming words (“corruption poppuption” and “doorstep poorstep”)? I would like to hear how and Indian born and bred in India responds to these books.

Or perhaps I am taking the whole thing too seriously……

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