The Detective Fiction of H.R.F. Keating


“Lively and witty, and, though highly artificial and contrived, grips as a really good set of false teeth should.”

– Maurice Richardson, Observer, 23rd August 1959

H.R.F. Keating is a mild and agreeable writer.  His early books are highly eccentric and diverting, outré in setting (the philosophy
school of Zen There Was Murder), motive (A Rush on the Ultimate, in which a desire to win a croquet match becomes a good enough motive for murder) and method (the falling stage-car of Death of a Fat God).  (Of these, The Dog it was that Died, a particularly tense thriller, is easily the best, and remains sadly forgotten.)  It was not until the invention of Inspector Ganesh Ghote, his downtrodden Bombay detective, that he really found the form which suited him best: the detective story as moral fable and the triumph of the underdog.  His skilful use of these generally make up for the weakness of the detection and the fact that his themes and handling of them can be rather trite.  At his best – as in The Perfect Murder, Inspector Ghote Draws a Line or The Body in the Billiard-room – Keating is quite a charming, thought-provoking writer.


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These pages copyright Nicholas Lester Fuller, 2000--2010. Created 5th December 2004.