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H. R. F. Keating Locked Room
Henry Reymond Fitzwalter “Harry” Keating (1926 – 2011) was an English crime fiction writer most notable for his series of novels featuring Inspector Ghote of the Bombay CID.
Keating, known as “Harry” to friends and family, was born in St. Leonards-on-Sea, Sussex and typed out his first story at the age of eight. He was educated at Merchant Taylor’s School in London and later Trinity College, Dublin. In 1956 he moved to London to work as a journalist on The Daily Telegraph. He was the crime books reviewer for The Times for fifteen years. He was chairman of the Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) (1970–71), chairman of the Society of Authors (1983–84) and president of the Detection Club (1985–2000). In 1996 the CWA awarded him the Cartier Diamond Dagger for outstanding services to crime literature. He also wrote screenplays, was a reviewer and wrote a biography of Dame Agatha Christie entitled Agatha Christie: First Lady of Crime. His guide to Writing Crime Fiction (1986) was based on his analysis of the development of the genre from the 1920s to the 1990s. It includes guidance on fictional structure, the plot and its characters, and on submitting a script to publishers.
On his 80th birthday in 2006, members of the Detection Club honoured him with an anthology, Verdict of Us All. He lived in London with his wife, the actress Sheila Mitchell until his death in 2011, aged 84.
Inspector Ganesh Ghote is an inspector in the Bombay (Mumbai) Police who appeared in 26 novels. The first was The Perfect Murder (1964), which won a Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger Award and was nominated for an Edgar Award. It was later made into a film. Keating intended Ghote’s final appearance to be in the novel Breaking and Entering (2000), but brought the character back in Inspector Ghote’s First Case (2008). Keating did not visit India until ten years after he started writing about it.
In the mid-eighties Keating published three novels under the pseudonym Evelyn Hervey. He also published seven novels featuring Harriet Martens, a detective chief inspector who earns the nickname “The Hard Detective” because of the tough image that she adopts to survive in the masculine world of UK policing. In the 1990s Keating wrote several novels about UK police detectives whose human weaknesses adversely affect their work. The first of these was The Rich Detective (1993) in which Detective Inspector Bill Sylvester of South Mercia Police investigates an anonymous allegation that a local antiques dealer is murdering old ladies after persuading them to change their wills in his favour. In The Bad Detective (1996) Detective Sergeant Jack Stallworthy is a corrupt police officer who is planning his retirement to Devon when a businessman offers him ownership of a hotel on a tropical island in return for stealing an incriminating file from the Fraud Investigations Office at police headquarters.
H. R. F. Keating Locked Room Novels
The Perfect Murder (1965)
Detective: Inspector Ghote
Available in paperback and ebook editions.
Note: Bad luck for Inspector Ghote
It is just Inspector Ghote’s luck to be landed with the case of the Perfect Murder at the start of his career with the Bombay Police. For this most baffling of crimes there is the cunning and important tycoon Lala Varde to contend with. And if this were not enough, Ghote finds himself having to investigate the mysertious theft of one rupee from the desk of yet another Very Important Person—the Minister of Police Affairs and the Arts. “If people would only behave in a simple, reasonable, logical way, ” sighs the inspector as he struggles through the quagmires of incompentence and corruption to solve these curious crimes.
Go West, Inspector Ghote! (1981)
Detective: Inspector Ghote!
Available only in used paperback editions.
Note: Inspector Ghote meets California
Ghote has been sent across the world by a Sindhi businessman to remove his daughter from a Californian ashram retreat. This classical ‘locked-room mystery’ provokes teasing question after teasing question about two very different societies and two seemingly opposed attitudes to life. And he has to deal with an American Private Eye of appalling brashness as well as a swami who is part miracle-worker, part charlatan. Not surprising that Len Deighton wrote to the author: ‘Wonderful! I’ve always said I would follow Ghote to the end of the earth and here he is in California : what a truly inspired confrontation.’
H. R. F. Keating Locked Room Short Stories
The Locked Bathroom (1980)
Detective: Mrs. Craggs, charwoman
Collection: The Black Lizard Big Book of Locked Room Mysteries
Available in paperback and ebook editions.
‘The Locked Bathroom’ by the great British mystery author, H.R.F. Keating, features one of his less well known detective characters, Mrs. Craggs, a professional charwoman. Squadron Leader, Jumping Jack Marchpane was taking a shower, while his nagging wife was washing at the sink, when he simply disappeared from this world. He could not have left the bathroom without her noticing. He had simply been there, busy showering one moment, then just ceased to exist. Mrs. Craggs makes tea for Mrs. Marchpane, to ease the shock, then they carefully search the house, but come up empty and are finally forced to call the police! The Great Locked Bathroom Mystery is an immediate sensation, but is never officially solved. Still, perhaps Mrs. Craggs knows more than she’s willing to tell the police! It really is a very charming story!