In the wake of the Central Bureau of Investigation's concise, polished, and utterly unhelpful report on a cheating scandal at Bombay's Oceanic College, Inspector Ghote is sent to ascertain how Bala Chambhar, the student now near death after an overdose of sleeping pills, could have purloined an exam paper from Principal Bembalkar's locked office. It doesn't take long for Ghote to figure out that this locked room was rather porous after all, but by that time he's realized that Chambhar, though he was selling copies of the exam all over Bombay, can't have been the person who took it in the first place; the thief (and poisoner) must have been somebody who wanted to discredit the Principalji. One of his aspiring successors, perhaps: the potbellied Dean, the unruffled Head of English, the self-styled Professor of Astrology? Or an aggrieved lecturer in English looking for revenge after getting tarred by disaffected students? Or one of the revolting students themselves? Giving his usual sublimely convincing imitation of a ``totally stupid police officer,'' Ghote stumbles through a maze of confrontations with student protesters, amateur kidnappers, and the pettiest of petty bureaucrats before a hint from his wife sets him on the path to Chambhar's would-be killer. Something of a holiday from the intensity of Ghote's last appearance (The Iciest Sin, 1990) and Keating's most recent novel (The Rich Detective, 1993)--a return to the foolishly endearing manner that masked the sly social commentary of Ghote's earliest adventures.