Cheating Death (Inspector Ghote Mystery Book 20) by H. R. F. Keating
English | 2020 | Mystery/Thriller | ePUB | 4.4 MB
Bombay University is in the grip of a cheating scandal, centred on one of its most deplorable colleges. A final exam paper has been stolen and sold prior to the test, leading to calls for the principal’s immediate resignation. The prime suspect for the theft, the student Bala Chambhar, is in a coma, after taking an overdose of sleeping pills. Inspector Ganesh Ghote of the Bombay CID is sent in to wrap up what appears to be a straightforward case: how did Bala steal the paper from Principal Bembalkar’s locked office? But what he finds soon leads him to ask a different question: did Bala try to take his own life – or was he poisoned? Hindered by student protests, and under pressure from his superiors, Ghote investigates with his usual thoroughness, only to find corruption, scandal and chaos wherever he looks . . .
That being the case, one might rightly ask why he chose the subcontinent as his muse in the first place? The answer: he picked up an atlas, flicked through it, and randomly chanced upon a map of India. From such moments of serendipity are legends born.
The novel that Keating subsequently wrote was published in 1964 and entitled The Perfect Murder. It featured Inspector Ganesh Ghote (pronounced Goh-té) of what was then known as the Bombay crime branch, a detective of considerable resourcefulness and tenacity. Ghote is not your typical western policeman. There is little of the maverick about him, no melodrama, no bitter divorces in his past (he is dedicated to his wife Protima), no hard-charging, hard-drinking machismo. He is a minor cog within a vast engine of bureaucracy and at the same time accepts this and chafes against it. He is set above the common man – by virtue of his uniform – and yet condemned to forever belong to the lower echelons of that vast stratified populace that gives India such colour and depth. Time and again in these immensely readable novels we see Ghote at the mercy of bombastic senior officers, villainous landlords and wealthy industrialists. In the face of abuse, obstacles and evil machinations, Ghote remains undeterred, finding his way to resolution in every case through a combination of understated intellect and quiet bloody-mindedness. When asked about the genesis of his seminal character, Keating would later reply, ‘Inspector Ghote came to me in a single flash: I pictured him exactly as he was, transposed as it were by some magic arc from Bombay to London. It was a tremendous piece of luck really, because I don’t think Inspector Ghote will now ever die. At least he’ll live as long as I do.’
Prophetic words. The Perfect Murder has met with enduring success. Upon publication it won the Crime Writers’ Association’s Gold Dagger in the UK and claimed an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America. Keating was on his way. And after twenty-five wonderful books and a short story collection, Inspector Ghote has joined the pantheon of great sleuths: Holmes, Poirot, Maigret. In his own way, Ghote has that shimmering of Golden Age stardust about him.