cover image The Bad Detective

The Bad Detective

H. R. F. Keating. Minotaur Books, $23.95 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-312-24371-5

British Det. Sgt. Jack Stallworthy didn't start out as a corrupt cop. He had every intention of protecting the people of Abbotsport. But when his wife, Lily, his only obsession, wanted her own car, what was an underpaid cop supposed to do but take a bribe? Now in his 50s and looking at retirement, Jack realizes that his meager pension and the only slightly larger stash of money buried in his backyard won't last long on the tropical island of Ko Samui, for which Lily pines. So when computer magnate Emslie Warnaby tempts him, in exchange for plane tickets to the island and a deed for a hotel there, to retrieve a folder the police seized when a bureaucrat was arrested, Jack grudgingly agrees. His attempts at getting the folder from the fraud investigation office--which range from befriending the charwoman, clerk and detective sergeant in charge to breaking and entering with the help of his archenemy, all the while facing Warnaby's imminent deadline--make up the bulk of this well-told tale. Jack, while crooked, is an astute observer of all around him and serves as a bellwether for a small-town cop's lot in life. Keating's low-key sense of humor and his dexterity at making a crooked protagonist sympathetic are firmly in place, as is the story's satirical edge, which explores the disparity between the financial rewards received by criminals and police and the symbiotic relationship between cops and robbers. Readers will come away from this newest by the veteran author of the Inspector Ghote mysteries with an eye-opening look at modern law enforcement. (Sept.)