cover image Bribery, Corruption Also

Bribery, Corruption Also

H. R. F. Keating. Minotaur Books, $23.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-312-20502-7

The take-charge Inspector Ghote (Asking Questions, etc.) of the Bombay police is decidedly out of his element on a trip to Calcutta. He is accompanied to that boisterous yet decaying city by his domineering wife, Protima, so that she might inspect her inheritance, presumably an impressive mansion. But as this slow, convoluted, yet wryly comic novel shows, little in Ghote's life is as it appears--particularly in a city where incessant rot and unparalleled beauty exist side-by-side. Ghote is suspicious when he discovers that Protima's mansion, now in a state of total disrepair and inhabited by hostile squatters, already has someone eager to buy. The property, he learns, will have the only access to a secretly planned housing development. In seeking who has the most to gain from swindling Protima, Ghote runs into corrupt figures at every level, including the shameless lawyer who mishandled the original will (for a bribe), the crusading newspaper editor who might be a fraud and the sinister police chief who is the ultimate cynic. But why is an innocent law clerk killed? Ghote is determined not to be outwitted, and his obstinate wife ultimately cooperates toward this goal. Rich in history and charm, though not in excitement, this is a modest addition to a beloved, long-running series. (Aug.)