The exalted circle surrounding film star Asha Rani has long been enjoying the clandestine benefits of ACE-i, an experimental medication for hypertension that some obliging soul's been smuggling out of the Mira Behn Institute for Medical Research. But when a faulty batch of ACE-i almost kills a director friend of Asha Rani's, a purred request from Greater Bombay's lordly Commissioner of Police sends Inspector Ghote to Mira Behn's door to ask who supplied the bad medicine. The answer to the Commissioner's question is obvious--the culprit must have been Chandra Chagoo, the snake handler responsible for extracting the venom on which ACE-i is based--if only because Chandra Chagoo has been murdered and can't defend himself. The Commissioner, satisfied that the case is closed, insists that Ghote's top priority in investigating the death be the protection of Mira Behn's reputation. But how can Ghote comply when the only three suspects--the Institute's director, Prof. P.P. Phaterpaker; star biochemist Dr. Gauri Subbiah, the developer of ACE-i; and Dr. Ram Mahipal, who just quit his research job to lecture lowly first- year medical students--are the very lifeblood of Mira Behn? Beloved veteran Ghote (Doing Wrong, 1994, etc.) succeeds at last by tactfully asking every indiscreet question possible, except for the shudderingly obvious one that would've cut this archly amusing fable to short-story length.