The Books

H. R. F. Keating is the author of twenty-four Inspector Ghote titles including a short story collection with a biography of the Inspector, ‘The life and Times of Inspector Ghote; two further Indian books set in the time of the Raj – including one in verse -‘Jack the Ladykiller’; a series of seven about an English detective, Harriet Martens; along with five mainstream novels – the last, posthumously published as an original audiobook, ‘A Kind of Light’  is available from September 6th 2016 to download from www.audible.co.uk. There are many non-series, stand-alone crime books  and two further short story collections, ‘In Kensington Gardens Once’ and ‘Mrs Craggs, Crimes Cleaned Up’. He also found time to edit and write eight non-fiction books.

Crime Fiction Series

Inspector Ghote Mysteries

perfect-murder

The Perfect Murder (1964)

This was the first book featuring Inspector Ghote of the Bombay CID and won the British Crime Writer’s Association Gold Dagger award. Intended as a one-off it was so successful in America as well as the UK that Keating decided to use the character in a series.

Audiobook available here

good-crusade

Inspector Ghote’s Good Crusade (1966)

This was no ordinary murder, for the victim was Frank Masters, millionaire and philanthropist so the case was bound to attract much public attention. But Inspector Ghote finds that his demands for evidence are met with nothing but lies and evasions. He is also plagued by a gang of street urchins whose intelligent powers of observation could have been useful instead of which they hinder him at every turn. Despite all this he pursues his investigation sticking to his principles.

Audiobook available here

caught-meshes

Inspector Ghote Caught in Meshes (1967)

Investigating a far from simple murder of an American visitor to Bombay, Ghote has difficulty sorting out where his loyalties lie as he gradually finds himself caught in meshes. The case culminates in a gun battle in which the well-known erotic carvings of Indian temple architecture play an unexpected part. “…the color and suspense sequences are fine — especially a grand siege in a pornographically decorated temple.” — New York Times Book Review

Audiobook available here

omnibus

The Inspector Ghote Mysteries: an Omnibus (1996)

Comprising three of the earlier Bombay detective, Inspector Ghote novels – “The Perfect Murder”, “Inspector Ghote’s Good Crusade” and “Inspector Ghote Caught in Meshes”.

peacock

Inspector Ghote Hunts the Peacock (1968)

Inspector Ghote comes to London… The Indian police inspector is here to attend an international conference and deliver a paper on drug smuggling but is hounded by relatives living in London who insist he tries to find their niece, Ranee, known as the Peacock, who has vanished – kidnapped, murdered, so her relatives allege, by a notorious pop singer. As Ghote struggles in a wet drizzly London to find time for both the Conference and his bizarre search he also has to come to terms with a rather different London from the one he had imagined in his dreams.

Audiobook available here

joker1

Inspector Ghote Plays a Joker (1969)

Inspector Ghote is faced by one of his oddest cases when he is ordered to prevent a murder – the killing of a precious flamingo in the Bombay zoo. And then there is the racehorse fancied to win the local Derby, which gets replaced by a donkey… Ghote finds things going disastrously as bit by bit he unearths the traces of a monstrous practical joker. But then the fun stops – and Inspector Ghote has a more serious murder on his hands.

Audiobook available here

egg

Inspector Ghote Breaks an Egg (1970)

Inspector Ghote of the Bombay Police finds himself investigating a murder in a small, provincial town. Ghote’s mandate is to investigate a death from fifteen years earlier, but he has not simply to find a murderer. He is told to pin the crime squarely on the town boss, a figure of almost despotic power. Nor is this all. The local holy man has embarked on a fast-to-death against any investigations. So as this Swami sinks nearer to his end, Ghote, in the face of obstruction of every kind, attempts swiftly to find his answer, experiencing in his own diffident yet resolute personality the truth of the adage that an omelette is not made without breaking eggs.

Audiobook available here

train

Inspector Ghote Goes By Train (1971)

The assignment was, apparently, routine but Inspector Ghote decides, despite the plan meaning he has to take unpaid leave to cover the extra time that going by train rather than flying involves, hopes to relax on the Calcutta Mail as it surges across the breadth of the Indian subcontinent. But Ghote’s fellow passengers, including one of Keating’s most splendidly monstrous of criminals, soon prove anything but restful.

Audiobook available here

heart

Inspector Ghote Trusts the Heart (1972)

In the place of the son of a rich manufacturer, the son of a poor tailor is mistakenly kidnapped. Ghote is given the case and he sees it as part of his task to persuade the rich man to pay the ransom his poor employee cannot possibly find. There is heart-in-mouth tension amid a vividly evoked back-street Bombay but also a Ghote pushed to the very limits in his fight with the rich man and his wife to achieve the morally correct solution. Will he in fact teeter over the edge of those limits? The reader has to reach the very last page to know the answer.

Audiobook available here

bats

Bats Fly Up for Inspector Ghote (1974)

Inspector Ghote is in trouble, worse trouble than ever before. When this adventure begins, he has already been relegated to the anti-pickpocket patrol, where he promptly gets himself into a fearful fix. Before long comes a topsy-turvy transfer to the Bats, as the specially selected officers of the Black-money and Allied Transactions Squad proudly call themselves. There Ghote is in worse straits, under compulsion to suspect every move and every word of his new super-efficient colleagues; he is also plagued by black thoughts about his loved ones at home. He becomes so troubled that there must be doubts in the reader’s mind about his ever emerging – could this even be the end of the series?

Audiobook available here

filmi

Filmi, Filmi, Inspector Ghote (1976)

After writing eight Ghote novels relying on research and imagination, this is the book Keating chose to write when he had returned from experiencing the real India as well as the madness of Bollywood, the film capital of India. It concerns the grisly murder of Dhartiraj, India’s most famous screen villain, a death that has plunged the Hindi tinsel town into chaos. But with the help of an ever resourceful gossip columnist, Ghote has soon assembled a list of three very likely suspects. First, a fading star who stood to inherit many of Dhartiraj’s roles; second, India’s number-one superstar, who was Dhartiraj’s rival at the box office (and in bed); and last but hardly least, the actor’s trusted stand-in. Ghote could easily make a case for each of them wanting the great Dhartiraj off the boards and into permanent retirement. Amid all this enticing tinsel the modest and sane Ghote is almost in danger of succumbing to visions of his own glittering success if he can solve the case.

Audiobook available here

line

Inspector Ghote Draws a Line (1979)

How do you guard a man who passes off anonymous threats on his life as mere foolishness? Sent to a remote part of India on the pretence of helping rigidly obstinate Judge Asif writing his memoirs of a working life during the British Raj, the Inspector’s actual mission is to find out who would benefit from sending these unsavoury warnings. But when the shrewd Judge discovers the real reason for the Inspector’s presence, he refuses to co-operate until it becomes evident that the threats are coming from someone in the household – perhaps his beautiful, high-strung daughter or his lunatic son or a militant American priest or the editor of a leftist newspaper who has a crush on the Judge’s daughter – the list seems endless.

Audiobook available here

west

Go West Inspector Ghote (1981)

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.’

sheriff

The Sheriff of Bombay (1984)

When Inspector Ghote is asked to escort an ageing British film hero round Bombay’s notorious red-light district known as The Cages, at first he is just embarrassed. But then his troubles really begin when there is a murder and the chief suspect is none other than the highly respected Sheriff of Bombay, ex-Rajah and former captain of the Indian cricket team. His evidence is based on his own sighting of the man leaving the house of ill-fame but to get proof what humiliations will he have to suffer? What sights will he see? Who will he encounter? And above all how will he explain what he has learnt to his wife?

monsoon

Under a Monsoon Cloud (1986)

A.D.I.G. (Additional Deputy Inspector-General) ”Tiger” Kelkar has gone to the small hill-station,Vigatpore, outside Bombay, to check on Inspector Ghote’s temporary work there. In a fit of righteous temper, Kelkar throws an inkpot at a foolish sergeant, killing him. Ghote, horrified that the much-admired Kelkar’s career could end with such an accident, helps dispose of the body. No-one seems to suspect that there has been a cover-up. A year later, however, at the start of the next monsoon, the victim’s family gets the case reopened. Kelkar kills himself and Ghote has to face an official inquiry on his own. Keating traces Ghote’s anguished vacillation as he has to weigh what he has always valued, telling the truth, against the inevitable finish of his own career if he gives in and betrays Kelkar. There is a brilliant, totally unexpected though very Indian ending to the story.

Audiobook available here

billiard

The Body in the Billiard Room (1987)

This brief, entertaining novel, the 17th featuring Bombay’s Inspector Ghote, finds the dauntless detective summoned to the hill station of Ootacamund (”Ooty”) in South India, where he must locate a ”diabolically ingenious murderer.” A former ambassador, Surinder Mehta, calls upon Ghote to probe the death of Pichu, billiards marker at the genteel Ooty Club, gathering place for well-to-do Indians and the English. Pichu had been found sprawled in the middle of the billiard table, stabbed in the heart; the murder weapon is missing, as are many of the club’s silver trophies. Ghote is forced into assuming the mantle of the ”Great Detective” with Mehta, an ageing crime novel buff, tirelessly performing the duties of a Dr Watson or Captain Hastings while doggedly defending his theory that Pichu’s slaying occurred because he was blackmailing some frequenter of the club. As Ghote stalks a motley group of suspects, he despairs of solving the homicide but turns Mehta’s notions of the classic detective novel on its head – finally coming up with an ingenious and unexpected solution.

on-time

Dead On Time (1988)

As much a treatise on time as it is a murder investigation into the death of ultra-rich Ramrao Pendke, who while recovering from a kidney transplant operation and out taking exercise, visits the Ticktock watchworks and is bludgeoned to death. The head of the Bombay police backs the prompt arrest made by a pet officer of his, Assistant Inspector Lobo, who has forced a confession out of Rustom Fardoomji, owner of the watch store. Ghote has doubts about the confession. He also agrees with the relatives of the accused: Fardoomji would have no reason to do away with a wealthy customer. In order to placate these influential relatives, Ghote is sent to the dead man’s home village – a slow-paced backwater the Inspector finds maddening. Plagued on the one hand by a Director General of Police obsessed with rigorous punctuality and on the other by a powerful landlord determined to preserve a countryside where time is measured not in minutes but by seasons, Ghote finally pins down his man – dead on time.

life

Inspector Ghote His Life and Crimes (1989)

Assembled to celebrate twenty-five years in print for Ghote, this is a collection of short stories featuring the Inspector some of which have previously appeared in magazines and newspapers. In an introduction Keating lays before us the very real story of how Ghote came into existence and flourished between 1964 and 1989 taking in as well the complications of being the centre of TV and radio programmes. But he also charts his own progress as a writer during those years of writing about India and this particular Indian.

iciest

The Iciest Sin (1990)

The iciest sin is blackmail, and that chilling crime is at the heart of this unusual mystery. Forced into undertaking an investigation into crimes stemming from blackmail Ghote is thrust, despite many misgivings, into illegal activities. Unnoticed witness to the (justified?) murder of a vicious blackmailer, unacknowledged protector of the reputation of a great man, final nemesis of the owner of a Bombay scandal sheet, he ends up caught in the sticky web of ‘business blackmail’ himself. Balanced on the knife-edge of his own conscience, he ponders denying all that his life and career have stood for: Inspector Ghote contemplates the ultimate solution.

death

Cheating Death (1992)

Under orders from New Delhi, Inspector Ghote is sent to look into the theft and sale of exam papers from one of the most deplorable outlying colleges of Bombay University. At first glance all seems straightforward. The chief suspect, Bala Chambhar, has attempted suicide and Principal Bembalkar has admitted leaving his office safe unlocked. But life is never easy for Ghote and he soon finds himself head-over-heels in the often farcical world of Indian college life with struggles on the Board of Trustees over who should run the college and student protests leading to kidnapping and violence.

wrong

Doing Wrong (1993)

Julian Symons the doyen of British crime writing at the time inserted into an appreciation in The Times Literary Supplement of Keating’s Inspector Ghote a review of Doing Wrong : ‘The new book’s prime interest is directly expressed by the title. There is no puzzle. From the second page we know that the ambitious politician, H.K.Verna has killed a woman because she was likely to reveal a damaging secret about his past. The victim is a former Minister and a national figure as a veteran freedom fighter, and when Ghote suspects the local Inspector has got it wrong in arresting a servant, and that the crime committed in Bombay had its origins in Benares, he is given freedom to investigate. Ghote soon suspects Verna, and there ensues what is less a cat and mouse than a guilt-and-innocence game, with passages alternating between the detective’s investigation and Verna’s state of mind.’ It is an unconventional crime book but one that maintains tension from the beginning to the end and offers much food for thought. Symons finishes his review with these words – ‘The last line of what is certainly the finest and most serious Ghote novel is “Have I done enough of the right in my life? Have I?”

questions

Asking Questions (1996)

At the Mira Behn Institute for Medical Research someone is smuggling out a dangerous drug, made from the venom of poisonous snakes. Inspector Ghote’s suspect is the snake-handler Chandra Chagoo, but Chagoo’s now lying dead on the floor of the Reptile Room a viper slithering across his back. The door of the room is locked. Was this a tragic accident? Ghote starts asking questions – if the snake-handler had locked himself in, where was his key? Could the door have been locked from the outside? Who else had a key? And is the murderer someone who works at the Institute? By this time Ghote is unsure that he really wants to know the answer.

bribery

Bribery, Corruption Also (1999)

ISBN: 033374568X. Having inherited a house in Calcutta, Inspector Ghote’s wife is determined that they should retire from the grind of Bombay life and lead a life idle luxury in the city of her birth. But the house is in a state of disrepair and inhabited by squatters. Ghote detects a whiff of corruption, and it extends way up the political ladder. He attempts to investigate but finds more and more evidence of corruption. Protima’s dream is shattered and soon they are both in great danger.

breaking

Breaking and Entering (2000)

ISBN: 0330483048. All Bombay is buzzing with news of the murder of Anil Ajmani. It is certainly a baffling case, for the millionaire was found stabbed to death in his heavily guarded and tightly secured mansion. Every inspector in the Crime Branch hopes to be the one to nail the killer and that includes Inspector Ganesh Ghote. Unfortunately, he is not assigned to the case.
Instead, he has been given the less glorious task of tracking down a cat burglar, nicknamed Yeshwant, who has been scaling apartment buildings in the dead of night to steal valuable pieces of jewellery. Aided – or perhaps hampered – by his old friend Axel Svensson, seeking Indian warmth from his troubles in winter-cold Sweden, Ghote fights to uncover Yeshwant’s true identity.

And in so doing, unexpectedly finds that he may be the one to solve the murder of Anil Ajmani after all.

first

Inspector Ghote’s First Case (2008)

ISBN: 0749079703. Keating returns to writing about Ghote after a nine year gap. He decides the new series will go back to the start of the Inspector’s career in the 1960s. Newly-promoted Inspector Ghote is thrilled to be joining the prestigious Crime Branch and pleased to be granted casual leave until he takes up his post, as it allows him to spend time with his heavily pregnant wife. They plan to go to a showing of “Hamlet” at the cinema. These plans are ruined by Sir Rustom Engineer, former Commissioner of Police who requires Ghote to investigate the unexplained suicide of s British friend’s wife. Worried that Protima, his wife, is on the point of giving birth, Ghote nevertheless travels to the distant hill-station home of Mr. Dawkins, where he is unconvinced by the story of Iris Dawkins’ death. Especially when he recognises the officer in charge, Darrani, well-known for his closed-mindedness. Ghote is determined to investigate further, with a Hamlet-esque awareness of how deceiving appearances can really be and all the time agitated about Protima left behind in Bombay.

Audiobook available here

small-case

A Small Case for Inspector Ghote? (2009)

ISBN: 07490-0731-7. Finally sitting at his own desk in his own office Ghote waits to be assigned to his first prestigious case. Before this happens he makes a highly unpleasant discovery – the severed head of a lowly peon in his waste-paper basket. Throughout the book Ghote tries to investigate this death against the orders of his superior officer – Crime Branch deals only with crimes committed against people in the higher reaches of society. Because of his lowly status, Bikram’s death was to be ignored but as his severed head had landed on Ghote’s desk, he feels it’s up to him to find out what happened. His unofficial investigation takes him to the graphically described poorest areas of Bombay while his official case sees him among the rich – trying to disentangle the lives of those where money is more important than morals – until eventually everything in both cases is resolved and, for once, what has been a very difficult relationship with his new boss, the head of Crime Branch, is brought to a satisfactory conclusion.

Harriet Martens

hard

The Hard Detective (2000)

Detective Chief Inspector Harriet Martens has had to make it in a man’s world. After all, it was this toughness that inspired her successful Stop the Rot campaign, that has so provoked local criminals. But now two of her officers have died within hours of each other and Harriet believes both have been murdered. It soon becomes apparent that the murders are being committed in a ruthless enactment of the words from the Book of Exodus: Life for Life, Eye for Eye. She has to find the murderer before he can progress any further through the quotation.

Audiobook available here

love

A Detective in Love (2001)

DCI Harriet Martens is nicknamed the Hard Detective. But for Harriet, love proves more dangerous than many of her cases… Britain’s number one tennis star, the beautiful Bubbles Xingara, has been murdered in the grounds of her luxurious house. Harriet is now in charge of a case that will have the world’s media – already massing for the start of Wimbledon – out in force. But it is not the investigation that is about to explode Harriet’s life. Nor the string of murder suspects. For it seems that the Hard Detective has fallen madly and passionately in love with a fellow officer.

Audiobook available here

fire

A Detective Under Fire (2002)

Detective Superintendent Harriet Martens has experienced many things in her career. Nicknamed the ‘Hard Detective’ for her tough approach to crime, she has also found herself caught in the throes of love with a fellow officer. But never before has she had to fight so hard to prove her worth as now. She has been brought down to London to head an inquiry into suspicions of corruption in the prestigious Maximum Crimes Squad. She encounters the ‘Fire’ of the title from the very people she is investigating. Will they manage to prevent her from doing the job of unmasking the mastermind? Can she withstand not only the animosity of her fellow officers but also a concerted attack by the Press?

Audiobook available here

dreaming

The Dreaming Detective (2003)

Summoned to the office of her new fanatically determined Chief Constable, Harriet Martens does not expect to be greeted with the words ‘Who killed the preacher?’, and then entrusted with an unsolved case dating back to the 1960s. The Imperial Hotel, scene of the brutal murder of the Boy Preacher over thirty years ago, is about to be demolished, and the Chief wants Harriet to take one last look at the scene. Seven people had waited outside the ballroom where the Boy Preacher was to begin his sermon, shortly before he was found brutally strangled. Now, with the use of DNA, the suspect’s clothes are to be scientifically examined. The Chief Constable is intending to close this case once and for all. As she waits for the DNA results, Harriet decides to interview the suspects and make her own mind up about the Boy’s killer. However the case is not as simple as she expects, and the DNA results do not tally with Harriet’s own mounting suspicions. Soon the case is taking over her life and even invading her sleep. Until one night a very different dream reveals the unexpected answer.

door

A Detective at Death’s Door (2004)

ISBN: 1405048069. In her most traumatic case yet, Harriet Martens finds herself placed in grave danger at the hands of a deft and cunning poisoner. Whilst relaxing with her husband at the Majestic pool one hot August Bank Holiday, Harriet does not expect the refreshing glass of Campari soda at her side to conceal a deadly drug. When she awakes from a doze she is no longer by the water, but in a hospital bed recovering from a near fatal dose of Aconitine. As Harriet makes her slow recovery, she tries to come to terms with the terrible fact that someone wanted to kill her. Even more difficult for her to face is the knowledge that she must find the person responsible, if only for her own peace of mind. But no sooner has she mustered enough energy to begin making tentative enquiries and initial investigations, than the poisoner strikes again. And this time he is successful… Will Harriet have the strength of mind and body to find the murderer before he finds another victim and before the local population begin to panic?

Audiobook available here

bomb

One Man and His Bomb (2006)

ISBN: 0312349882. Detective Superintendent Harriet Martens takes great pride in her twin sons, who decided to follow in her footsteps by joining the police force in London. She is devastated one night when she learns that one of her sons has been killed by a terrorist bomb and that the other is in the hospital, gravely injured. In the wake of the bomb outrage, every available police officer is occupied with anti-terrorist precautions. Harriet, on the other hand, finds herself investigating the theft of a herbicide specimen from a Birchester research station. The stolen sample is capable of causing more destruction than any single bomb. Harriet must work in secrecy, all the while fighting off her overwhelming grief and unceasing fears. All but alone in a deceptive world where people aren’t quite what they seem, she has to become, once again, the Hard Detective. H.R.F. Keating, a living legend in the crime fiction world, delivers another stellar mystery featuring this fascinating and unstoppable sleuth.

eggs

Rules, Regs and Rotten Eggs (2007)

ISBN: 0312375336. Detective Superintendent Harriet Martens resolves to resign after the new Assistant Chief Constable at the head of the CID constantly makes her feel inferior. However, her thoughts of resignation are abruptly interrupted when the pro-hunting politician Robert Roughouse suspiciously collapses during one of his vehement speeches at an anti-hunting demonstration. Sensing that someone has deliberately attempted to murder Roughouse, and seeing an opportunity to prove her worth to the ACC, Detective Martens determinedly takes charge of the investigation. Thwarted in all her attempts to find out what lies behind first an attempted murder and then an actual killing until, at the end of the book, she follows a clue down to London which results in an unputdownable denouement.

The Miss Unwin Trilogy

governess

The Governess (1983). Written as Evelyn Hervey.

This first of a Victorian trilogy originally written under the pseudonym of Evelyn Hervey but quickly recognised as being written by the sure hand of HRF Keating, it introduces Harriet Unwin who has risen from the lowliest workhouse childhood through ‘downstairs’ jobs to becoming a lady’s maid and upwards to the point where we meet her as a governess, a position that sits uneasily between the servants hall and the gentry upstairs. She soon finds her hard-won status in jeopardy when she is accused of murder. Extricating herself proves hazardous and complicated. But her task is made easier with the involvement of a figure from her workhouse past, the effervescent and delightful Vilkins who nevertheless remains firmly at the bottom of the household heap as a scullery maid.

Audiobook available here

gold

The Man of Gold (1985). Written as Evelyn Hervey.

Harriet Unwin seems destined to find herself employed in households where there is a murder. This time her heart becomes involved – something she has hitherto resisted – her endeavours to clear the man to whom she is attracted of a murder charge are not helped by the conventions of the times. But this is not a glossy romance – it is a picture of life upstairs with all its snobberies and artificialities, as well as depicting the drudgery and dreariness, to say nothing of the degradation faced by those who live below stairs. Harriet, from the regions mid-way between the two, has to sort out not only the crime but also her own personal dilemmas.

Audiobook available here

ITVoDeath-paperback 300w

Into the Valley of Death (1986). Written as Evelyn Hervey.

Temporarily released from her duties as a governess Harriet Unwin sets out to help her old friend Vilkins who is trying to prove that her employer’s husband is not guilty of the murder he is accused of committing and she has to do it with expedition because he is due to be hanged. The area she travels to has been christened The Valley of Death but it turns out that this present murder has connections with the Crimean War and the book is punctuated with the resounding words of Tennyson’s poem. The race against time with a man’s life at stake is nail-bitingly agonising.

Crime Fiction Stand-alone Novels

firemen

Death and the Visiting Firemen (1959)

Eccentric both in its setting – an English journey by coach-and four by a group of ‘Firemen’ from American on the way to their Annual Conference to be held in London – and also in the style of writing. On publication this style inspired both admiration and fury in almost equal measure but assured an explosive entry for Keating into the world of crime fiction.

zen

Zen There Was Murder (1960)

The first of the books with an underlying serious purpose – how truth can be manipulated to obscure facts – but this is hidden under the telling of a fast-moving plot set in the world of a week-end course on Zen Budhism. The course is run by a Zen expert who runs rings round the investigating officer aided and abetted by a richly varied group of students and two charming German au pairs whose chats together and act as a commentary on the escalating murder scene.

ultimate

A Rush On the Ultimate (1961)

A residential gathering during the holidays at a minor public school where all the guests are croquet enthusiasts – the pursuit of gentlefolk who in this instance play a vicious game and turn out to have murky secrets in their past. After a murder occurs there is a race against time to prevent more crimes being committed.

dog

The Dog It Was That Died (1962)

Set in Ireland in and around Trinity College Dublin (where Keating spent four years as a student) there is indeed a delightful dog who suffers the same fate as the dog in the Oliver Goldsmith poem but the hero is likely to suffer a fate worse than death if he is caught by the gross villain whose specialism is brain-washing. This is a character based novel with a page-turning narrative.

Audiobook available here

fat

Death of a Fat God (1963)

Here the heightened world of opera seen during a season at a provincial opera house provides a light-hearted exploration of larger-than-life, many of them self-obsessed, characters There is an international cast of singers who take every opportunity of indulging their artistic temperaments, driving the volatile Spanish director to distraction and hindering the investigation into the inevitable murder. This book introduces the four-square charlady, Mrs Craggs, who, together with her lugubrious, self-delusional friend Mrs Milhorne remain one step ahead in solving the crime. Mrs Craggs is later featured in many short stories some of which are collected together in ‘Mrs Craggs, Crimes Cleared up.’

Audiobook available here

fatal

Is Skin-Deep, Is Fatal (1965)

The book which precedes this, ‘The Perfect Murder’ brought inspector Ghote to life, making India predominant in place of finding a zany setting for each new book. But before that was so successfully published this story with its bizarre background had been written. The crimes takes place in the often vicious world of the beauty contest. Reviewers wanted the investigating officer, Superintendent Ironside, to become a series detective but with the creation of Ghote he never stood a chance so he remains an endearing one-off.

burglary

A Remarkable Case of Burglary (1975)

Val Leary is handsome, charming and broke. On the morning of April Fool’s Day 1871, while walking through one of London’s wealthiest districts, he notices a young maidservant scrubbing the steps of 53 Northbourne Park Villas. In that instant he conceives the idea for a remarkable case of burglary. The set-up seems perfect, but chance intervenes in a succession of coincidences that place the jewels further and further beyond the reach of Val and his cronies – until…

Audiobook available here

rich

The Rich Detective (1993)

Riches beyond the dreams of avarice are the last thing on Bill Sylvester’s mind when he returns to England after a holiday in Spain. A detective inspector in South Mercia, Sylvester is greeted by an urgent summons from the chief constable himself. Meanwhile, the lottery ticket he bought so casually while on vacation lies forgotten in his wallet. Sylvester is asked to tackle a highly delicate case. An anonymous letter – alleging murder – received by the chief identifies a wealthy antiques dealer as the perpetrator of a ruthless scam against defenseless old ladies. Sylvester is soon on his way to the opulent home of Charles Roanoke – and what he witnesses there convinces him that the allegations against the dealer should be taken seriously. Before long Sylvester finds he is alone in believing in Roanoke’s guilt. Then he learns that his lottery ticket has won him almost a million pounds. Suddenly master of his own destiny, he resigns from the force. But Sylvester has become obsessed with pursuing Roanoke to the bitter end. An end that proves far more bitter than he at first realizes. For justice can sometimes exact a terrible price, even from a newly minted millionaire…

good

The Good Detective (1995)

The author of ‘The Rich Detective’ continues to examine problems facing detectives, in this case how to combine his essential goodness of character with the demands made on him to get a result.

soft

The Soft Detective (1997)

DCI Phil Benholme has the reputation for being a little soft – but only because he tries to see both sides of every story. And now he is faced with the murder of Professor Unwala, winner of the Nobel Prize in 1945. What does a “soft cop” do when his teenage son is also his prime suspect?

bad

The Bad Detective (1999)

For years Detective Sergeant Jack Stallworthy has taken advantage of the extra perks available to him. He’s put away the criminals, made the town safer. Why shouldn’t he accept the bonuses for his hard work?. His beloved and beautiful wife, Lily, dreams of retiring on Ko Samul, an island paradise, while Jack would be content to retire to a modest bungalow in Devon. That is, until Jack meets influential businessman Emslie Warnaby. Emslie offers Jack a deal he can hardly refuse: In exchange for just one file at police headquarters, Jack will get the deeds of ownership to the first-class Calm Seas Hotel in Ko Samul. But the incriminating file turns out to be very hard indeed to get, and as Jack tries to complete the transaction, Lily grows impatient about her dream, Jack falls deeper and deeper into crime, and soon there’s no turning back.

jack

Jack the Lady Killer (1999)

The Punjab in India. 1935. The sub-continent under the Raj. Fresh from his English boarding school, Jack Steele is a new recruit to the Indian Imperial Police and soon begins to acquire the attitudes of old India hands towards the people under their rule. Only a few months into his posting, Jack has to conduct a murder investigation when one of the British community at his Station, the sexually rapacious widow Milly Marchbanks, is found strangled. To Jack’s consternation, the only clue implicates a member of the club for the British. But which one? While Jack goes round and round in circles, his self-effacing Indian sergeant, Bulaki Ram, discreetly nudges him along the way he needs to go.
H. R. F. Keating is best known for his long series of Inspector Ghote mysteries set in India, but Jack, the Lady Killer is something completely different as well as completely unexpected. It is one of the rarest forms known to literature, a detective novel in verse. Inspired by Vikram Seth’s brilliantly successful revival of the verse novel in The Golden Gate, Keating develops his rhyme-crime in nearly 300 fourteen-line stanzas.

The Verdict Of Us All

The Verdict of Us All (2006)
Published in the USA by Crippen and Landru and in the UK by Allison & Busby

From the foreword written by Dick Francis through all the seventeen short stories penned by illustrious members of the UK’s Detection Club comes this wonderful tribute to Harry on his eightieth birthday. All were not only colleagues but friends and Peter Lovesey, as Editor but contributing as well, asked each of them to start with a message to or memory of the man they were honouring. These forewords from Len Deighton, PD James, Reg Hill, Andrew Taylor, Liza Cody, Michael Hartland, Simon Brett, Michael Z. Lewin, Colin Dexter, Lionel Davidson – a random selection – taken together form a mini biography and they all present a picture of the warm, caring man that was HRF Keating. The stories themselves are as diverse and entertaining as the writers themselves. The collection concludes with a story from Keating himself chosen by his wife.

Audiobook available here

Non-Crime Fiction Stand-alone Novels

strong

The Strong Man (1971)

This novel – the first time Keating abandons the tight structure of the crime novel – examines the uses and abuses of power and it explores the rebel, Keig’s – reminiscent of Che Guevera – attempt to eradicate the evils rampant on the imaginary island of Oceana. It is an adventure story told in the grand style filled with characters who leap off the page.

underside

The Underside (1974)

Keating’s second ‘straight’ novel moves from the imaginary island of his first ‘The Strong Man’ to the deeply realistic underworld of Victorian times. With a main character moving between his natural background of the well-to-do middle classes to the filth and degradation of the seriously underprivileged poor, this novel skates on the thin ice of pornography but never goes over the edge. A disturbing story of a man’s fight with overwhelming obsessions told with sympathy and sensitivity.

wimbledon

A Long Walk to Wimbledon (1978)

For his third ‘straight’ novel Keating takes a leap into the future, to a time when an unspecified total disaster has laid London to waste, where pockets of often barely human people attempt to scratch a living. A London with no transport system, no utilities. A solitary man, holed up in Highgate in the north of the erstwhile capital, is astonished to hear his long discarded phone ring and a voice telling him his estranged wife is dying in Wimbledon on the southern outskirts and wants to see him before she expires. The journey he embarks on is fraught with dangers. The route is barely recognisable but there are still well-known landmarks such as a deserted Buckingham Palace with, as its sole occupant, a seemingly mad old woman. Our ‘Everyman’ battles courageously on to his destination, on one occasion overwhelmed by the beauty on a clear moonlight night of the perfect operatic notes issuing from the top of deserted Mayfair house, but all the time fighting not only the physical obstacles but also the demons of his own fear.

Audiobook available here

Alphonse

The Lucky Alphonse (1982)

The format for this fourth ‘straight’ novel has changed. It is a volume which contains three novellas written to emulate a musical symphony in three movements. The underlying theme stems from a mildly dirty anecdote about a man called Alphonse, a waiter, who is spotted by his employer lying on the grass between two other employees. The employer far from being outraged at this picture of depravity exclaims, ‘Ze lucky Alphonse, in ze middle again.’ Each ‘movement’ has a protagonist whose name is a variant on Alphonse and each is set in a different country, two of them familiar Keating territory, India and Ireland and the third, Africa, breaking new ground. The mood is different to suit the ‘movement’, romantic; quick-thinking side-stepping out of shady dealings; ingenious unravelling and final resolution of a political situation. In each case the ‘Alphonse’ character finds himself the man in the middle faced with a problem to be solved.

Non-Fiction

Blood On My Mind 1972 (editor and contributor)

The Crime Writer’s Association have produced quite a few books written by its members. This one is a collection of thoughts on real crimes that have been a quiet obsession in the mind of each individual crime writer. Starting with a re-telling of the murder of Publius Claudius Pulcher in 52 BC with an analysis of who actually did the murder, there follow lesser-known and better-known crimes – including the 1170 murder of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. Keating’s own contribution centres round a gruesome poem written in 1821 by Thomas Hood entitled ‘The Dream of Eugene Aram’ and the performing of which apparently gives rise to later crimes. The piece is a meditation on and an analysis of Eugene Aram himself and of all that follows.

Murder Must Appetize (1975 Lemon Tree Press London; Reprinted 1981 The Mysterious Press N.Y.)

One reviewer in 1981 in America said ‘This is a 50-page love letter to the traditional, fair-play mystery.’ The opening words go a long way in endorsing this notion. “is there anything, when life gets a little much, as comforting as a detective story? Well yes, of course there is. Drink. The love of a good woman. The attentions of a bad woman.” The book then goes on to enlarge on what were the elements that contributed to this ‘comfort’ through examining works by the best exponents of the traditional mystery story who wrote in the first half of the 20th century. The book concludes with the potted biographies of some twenty-five of those he considers the greatest.

acfirstladyofcrime

Agatha Christie — First Lady of Crime (1977) (Editor and contributor)

Keating has assembled penetrating contributions from eminent crime writers and critics on both sides of the Atlantic, a piece from Christie’s final editor at William Collins as well as theatre and film critics who had first-hand knowledge of her plays and the films made from her books. To these he added his own contribution which centres on the sleuth, Hercule Poirot, while a further chapter from Christiana Brand deals with Miss Marple. The American crime writer and critic, Dorothy Hughes defends the lesser known books written under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott.  This was all accomplished at break-neck speed, making it the first appreciation to be published after her death.

crime

Crime Writers (1978)

BBC TV Further Education department put together a series of programmes which covered the history and diversity of crime writing in all media. This volume – which arose from the series – is not just something put into book form; it is specifically written to be read as opposed to being written to be seen. Many of the writers in this book also appeared in the TV series but their written contributions vary and are often able to be more expansive when free from the time restrictions of a TV programme. Keating states in his editorial foreword that the approach has tended to be more social commentary than literary history. He pays tribute to Bernard Adams, the BBC producer, whose original idea it was to make the programmes and then subsequently produce a book and to Mike Pavett who, having been involved in the making of the TV, played a major part in the formation of the book. The introduction and all the informative linking material between the articles are his work and he also found the great majority of the illustrations.

holmes

Sherlock Holmes, the Man and His World (1979)

Given that Conan Doyle gave Sherlock Holmes an aversion to anything personal being written about him except by Dr Watson, Keating decided to include only facts that could be verified in Watson’s narrations. To these he has added the facts of the historical and cultural life of Holmes’s day. This method reveals, first, some aspects of the great detective’s career that have escaped previous scrutiny. (What, for instance, was the significance of the visit to the Bond Street art galleries in the heat of the affair of the Hound of the Baskervilles?) It also presents Holmes as very much a man of his times – a true creation of late Victorian and Edwardian England.

Whodunit 1982

This is both a celebration of a popular genre and a uniquely accessible reference volume which will lead readers of crime, suspense and spy fiction to new writers and new books. Keating as editor has called on the services of eminent crime writers on both sides of the Atlantic as well as critics and afficianados of crime fiction who, in the first section talk about the various categories that make up this genre and in the second section describe the different methods of writing they each have. There follow 140 pages of potted biographies of several hundreds of crime writers with a starred assessment of some of their books in terms of characterisation, plot, readability and tension called a consumer’s guide and finally a section on the characters found in these books. A comprehensive assemblage.

writing

Writing Crime Fiction (1986)

In this slender volume, H.R.F. Keating distils nearly thirty years of experience into a thorough guide to the history and craft of detective stories. Originally published in 1986 it went into a second, revised edition in 1994 and has remained in print ever since. To that the eBook has been added some twenty years later. Ruth Rendell referred to it as ‘a private Godsend’. This is a lovingly crafted book which has not only helped aspirant writers but caught the attention of the crime-writing world.

mystery

Crime and Mystery the 100 Best Books (1987)

Chronologically starting in 1845 with Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘Tales of Mystery and Imagination’, a writer Keating regarded as the founding father of detective fiction, the next entry is Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone’1868 – T.S.Eliot, major poet and crime fiction fan, believed Collins to have written the first, the longest and the best of modern English detective stories – next comes Charles Dickens writing ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’ in 1870 and Arthur Conan Doyle with two titles ‘The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. in 1892 and ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ 1902, the book gets off resoundingly. It progresses to cover more than a century with the last choice being PD James, ‘A Taste for Death’ 1986. In between come the rest of the hundred which Keating in his Introduction readily acknowledges must in some cases be personal but he justifies each choice with facts and well-argued reason. Patricia Highsmith concludes her Foreword thus – “One can open ‘The 100 Best’ anywhere and be entertained by its contents, learn something new, or reinforce what is already in one’s head. Keating modestly states in his Introduction that he may have left out some fine writers, for which he anticipates reproach. But who in our time could have done it better?

The Bedside Companion to Crime 1989

Intended as a ‘dip-in’ book it became a page-turner for many. Deliberately written with a light touch and a great deal of humour it nevertheless amasses facts and opinions that, in many cases, illuminate the world of crime fiction. Keating always set out to entertain, something he is on record as stating is the achievement of the best crime writers. This skill he claims in the first section of this book – A Word Before You Nod Off – is not always apparent in the works of the ‘pure novelist’ who often writes only to inform. In these covers there is information but always delivered with the reader’s best interests in mind. A reviewer at the time wrote – ‘Amusing and informative reading here that can be enjoyed by both neophytes and their more knowledgeable brethren. Don’t buy it for your coffee table; buy it to read and then put in your reference shelf for future consultation.’

Ebooks

BLOOMSBURY READER

A Long Walk to Wimbledon
The Governess
The Man of Gold
Into the Valley of Death
The Strong Man
The Good Detective
The Bad Detective
The Soft Detective
A Remarkable Case of Burglary
The Dog It Was That Died
The Underside
Death and the Visiting Firemen
Zen There Was Murder
Is Skin Deep Is Fatal
Murder Must Appetize

PENGUIN UK

Inspector Ghote Trusts the Heart
Inspector Ghote Breaks An Egg
Under a Monsoon Cloud
The Perfect Murder

AMAZON

A Rush on the Ultimate
Death of a Fat God
Doing Wrong
Inspector Ghote’s Good Crusade

ENDEAVOUR PRESS

The Hard Detective
A Detective in Love
A Detective Under Fire
The Dreaming Detective
A Detective at Death’s Door

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