THE BODY IN THE BILLIARD ROOM by H.R.F. Keating

THE BODY IN THE BILLIARD ROOM

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Inspector Ghote, whose cases usually take him into the slightly mean streets of contemporary Bombay, is now sent on special assignment to the quaint, Raj-style hill-town of ""Ooty"" (Ootacamund)--where he's supposed to solve an old-fashioned murder mystery in the manner of Great Detectives like Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. A servant at the Ooty Club has been found dead on the billiard table, stabbed; the weapon is missing--and so are silver cups from the Club's trophy case. But, while the local police are convinced that it's a simple case of robbery, old Surinder Mehta--the town's most prestigious citizen and a passionate Agatha Christie fan--is sure that this must be a classic ""Golden Age"" puzzle. And he expects Ghote (who's never read Dame A.) to perform in dazzling Poirot style. Ghote plods instead, of course--as he interviews the five Club residents who might have been the servant's blackmail victims: a philandering Maharajah and his equally adulterous Maharani; an aged Memsahib; a cheery, fat Moslem; and a mild professor. Eventually, however, after going into ""the tree Great Detective's trance,"" timid Ghote does come up with the right answers--even if they're far from plausible and only faintly clever. As mystery, then, this is neither a Golden Age delight nor (like Keating's best) a semi-modern standout. But, as leisurely, low-key parody, it's always pleasant and occasionally droll--with Ghote's amusing first stab at golf, his continuing quest for yoga serenity, and lots of in-jokey references to classic crime-literature.

Pub Date: Nov. 2nd, 1987
Publisher: Viking