Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amiable and readable, but..., 27 Mar 2011
This review is from: The Perfect Murder: The First Inspector Ghote Mystery (Paperback)
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As a readable detective story this is enjoyable and quite engaging. Alexander McCall Smith provides the enthusiastic introduction and one can see why because there is more than a faint echo of Ghote in Mma Ramotswe. They are both innocent but determined and resilient, both beacons of decency in a less than decent world and both rely heavily on a slightly obscure written authority for their methodology, with Mma Ramotswe's relationship with Clovis Andersen's `Principles of Private Detection' bearing a striking resemblance to Ghote's with Gross's `Criminal Investigation'. The plot here is also concerned with puzzling but relatively minor crimes, which all makes for an amiable read, with Bombay and its characters colourfully drawn.

It is this last which made me slightly uneasy about the book. Keating is an Englishman who, in 1964 when this book was published, had never been to India. I am sorry of this seems like Political Correctness Gone Mad, but for him then to paint poisonous portraits of some Indians, and somewhat patronising comic ones of others did worry me. Even if, as McCall Smith says by way of exoneration, such characters exist, it seems to me that it is one thing for a knowledgeable author with experience of India (even if non-Indian) to describe them, but another for a mid-1960s white Englishman to imagine them without any first-hand knowledge.

So...it's an amiable, well-written and engaging book. My reservations are a personal response to wider issues around the book rather than to the book itself and I have given it four stars because I think that's what the text itself deserves. If you don't share my reservations and like fairly gentle detective fiction I can recommend it.
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Review Details

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3.7 out of 5 stars (90 customer reviews)
5 star:
 (22)
4 star:
 (29)
3 star:
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2 star:
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10.99 7.69
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Sid Nuncius
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 10 REVIEWER)   

Location: London

Top Reviewer Ranking: 4