Inspector Ghote's First Case
Review: Set in March 1960, not all that long before the first book in this series was published by H. R. F. Keating in 1964, Inspector Ghote's First Case is something of a misnomer; strictly speaking, it's not Ghote's absolute first case but his first case as a newly promoted Inspector in the Bombay Police Force. This is the 22nd mystery in this series.
Ghote has just received his promotion notice and is on a two week leave before he reports for duty. He's surprised when he's asked by a former Police Commissioner to look into the apparent suicide of the wife of a friend that took place several weeks earlier. As if he had nothing better to do with his time off. The local police have closed the case, but the answer to the question of why the woman, who was pregnant at the time, killed herself was never addressed. Ghote soon discovers his old school nemesis, now Inspector Barrani — but known to Ghote as Bully Barrani, or more simply Bullybhoy — was in charge of the case. He tries to assure Ghote, in the most condescending way, that there's nothing more to investigate, saying "You will just have to learn in police work not to ask questions that are having no answer."
Inspector Ghote's First Case suffers from two primary problems, the most serious being the case isn't all that interesting, is better suited for a short story than a full-length novel, and is familiar to the point of being predictable. The second problem is the premise itself: Why a prequel? What would have been different had the case been written from the perspective of a seasoned Inspector Ghote as opposed to a newly promoted Inspector Ghote? There doesn't seem to be any reason to write the book as a prequel, nothing "new", as it were, is presented, thus the artificiality of the approach doesn't do this long-running series any favors. As a first book for new readers of the series, however, Inspector Ghote's First Case may serve as a good introduction to the characters and somewhat unique narrative style of the author; for others, it's likely to be a bit of a disappointment.
Acknowledgment: Minotaur Books provided a copy of Inspector Ghote's First Case for this review.
Review Copyright © 2009 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Inspector Ghote's First Case: Bombay, India
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Inspector Ghote's First Case by H. R. F. Keating — An Inspector Ghote Mystery
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: August 2009
List Price: $24.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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