cover image Asking Questions: An Inspector Ghote Mystery

Asking Questions: An Inspector Ghote Mystery

H. R. F. Keating. St. Martin's Press, $20.95 (208pp) ISBN 978-0-312-15057-0

Keating has a new American publisher for his 21st Inspector Ganesh Ghote mystery (Doing Wrong, etc.), but the Bombay cop is still his old prying self in this classic locked-room puzzler. Sought out at home by Bombay's police commissioner, Ghote is presented with one of those ""simple"" little problems bound to produce big headaches. An experimental drug made from deadly snake venom has found its way from the Mira Behn Institute to Bombay's film-celebrity community, with nearly fatal results. Ghote is to plug the leak without embarrassing the Institute or the film stars. Instead of a leak, Ghote finds a body. The snake handler, Chandra Chagoo, is found murdered in a locked room with a poisonous viper perched on his back. There are three plausible suspects: Ram Mahipal, formerly of the Institute and now an embittered medical school teacher; Dr. Gauri Subbiah, a rising young female researcher whose groundbreaking study is about to be published; and Professor Phaterpaker, director of the Institute. None are palatable choices, and Ghote must gingerly ask question after question knowing that, no matter who is guilty, he will be hard-pressed to find a solution that will satisfy the politically sensitive needs of the commissioner. Deferential and persistent, Ghote uncovers many little mysteries before he finally asks the right questions and presents an elegant solution. As usual, Keating's choreography of India's bureaucratic and social waltzes is impeccable, and Ghote performs his steps without squashing the wrong toes. (Feb.)