'Inspector Ghote's Good Crusade' by H.R.F. Keating
In theory I have a job starting soon, but the company are niggling over so many minor issues and one of my three referees that I need having decided to go on holiday for over a month, it may prove that I never get the job. Anyway, in the meantime I have remained unemployed and so reading very little. I did manage to finish the second in the Inspector Ghote anthology about the murder of a us philanthropist at a children's home he runs in India. The setting in 1960s Dehli remains interesting and with this one, I felt more aware of the difference in chronology as well as culture which had been the dominant difference in 'The Perfect Murder' which I read earlier this year.
There is interesting commentary on the impact of Westerners whether volunteering or giving money to good causes in India. They are portrayed as being pretty naive and not understanding at all the context they are working in and as a result patronising the India population. Even more than with 'A Perfect Murder', Ghote encounters people who are unwilling to answer his questions or aid the investigation and more than that, feel they have a right to opt out of the process. I found the inclusion of one character like this in 'A Perfect Murder' to be refreshing and to add realism to the story, but in this book, there are simply too many. This both frustrates the reader and makes Ghote appear as a man without any authority. This steadily turns him into appearing as a buffoon, something exacerbated when he gives away his savings to a poor family who in turn fritter them away immediately.
By the end of the book Ghote has no credibility not only as a police officer but as an adult. I was certain if this was meant to be for comic effect, but if so it does not go far enough. If it was meant as comic then it undermines the points that the book makes about 1960s Indian society reaching from wealthy Western input, to the situation of street children and poor fishing families, why smuggling gold into India was worthwhile and the aspirations of middle class Indians in a period of the growing consumer society. There was an uneveness of tone which left me feeling both dissatisfied and frustrated with the book.