Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Ghote guy

I've never been sure of the success of Penguin's accession of Georges Simenon into its Modern Classics field. Certainly it raised the Belgian author's profile for a new generation of crime fans, as well as providing us with some great covers, but the lack of reprints might lead you to conclude that the reissues were less popular than was envisaged. (It may have been a case of bad timing, I think Penguin changed over its old ordering system when the Simenons were reprinted.)

Let's hope a similar fate doesn't befall the upcoming canonisation of four of HRF Keating's Inspector Ghote mysteries. Created in the 1960s, the books conjure a Bombay the author, who died on Saturday aged 84, didn't visit until he wrote the tenth in the series (of 24). The language is especially atmospheric, from such words as 'dacoit' - still in use today - to the repetitive rhyming of character Arun Varde in the first work, The Perfect Murder.

In his new introduction to that book, Alexander McCall Smith states: 'Ghote himself is one of the great creations of detective fiction. Unlike many fictional detectives, who are often outsiders, possessed in many cases of personal demons, Ghote is utterly loveable.' The new editions are published next week, on 7 April, and there could hardly be a more fitting tribute.

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