Keating, H.R.F. 1926- (Evelyn Hervey, H. Reymond Fitzwalter Keating, Henry Reymond Fitzwalter Keating)

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Keating, H.R.F. 1926- (Evelyn Hervey, H. Reymond Fitzwalter Keating, Henry Reymond Fitzwalter Keating)


Born October 31, 1926, in St. Leonards-on-Sea, Sussex, England; son of John Hervey (a schoolmaster) and Muriel Marguerita Keating; married Sheila Mary Mitchell (an actress), October 3, 1953; children: Simon, Bryony (daughter), Piers, Hugo. Education: Trinity College, Dublin, B.A., 1952. Hobbies and other interests: "Popping round to the post."


Office—35 Northumberland Pl., London W2 5AS, England. Agent—Peters, Fraser & Dunlop, 34-43 Russell St., London W2 5HA, England.


Writer, journalist, editor, and novelist. Sub-editor for Evening Advertiser, Swindon, Wiltshire, England, 1952-55, Daily Telegraph, London, England, 1955-57, and Times, London, 1957-60. Military service: British Army, 1945-48; became acting lance-corporal.


Crime Writers Association (chair, 1970-71), Society of Authors (chair, 1982-84), Detection Club (president, 1985-2001).


Gold Dagger Award, Crime Writers Association, 1964, for The Perfect Murder, and 1980, for The Murder of the Maharajah; Edgar Allan Poe Award, Mystery Writers of America, 1965, for The Perfect Murder, and 1980, for Sherlock Holmes: The Man and His World; short story prize, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine 1970; Royal Society of Literature fellow, 1991; Diamond Dagger Award, Crime Writers Association, 1996, for lifetime achievement; Lifetime Achievement Award, Malice Domestic, 2005.



The Perfect Murder, Collins (London, England), 1964, Dutton (New York, NY), 1965, reprinted, Academy Chicago Publications (Chicago, IL), 1983.

Inspector Ghote's Good Crusade, Dutton (New York, NY), 1966.

Inspector Ghote Caught in Meshes, Collins (London, England), 1967, Dutton (New York, NY), 1968, reprinted, Academy Chicago Publications (Chicago, IL), 1985.

Inspector Ghote Hunts the Peacock, Dutton (New York, NY), 1968, reprinted, Academy Chicago Publications (Chicago, IL), 1985.

Inspector Ghote Plays a Joker, Dutton (New York, NY), 1969, reprinted, Academy Chicago Publications (Chicago, IL), 1984.

Inspector Ghote Breaks an Egg, Collins (London, England), 1970, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1971, reprinted, Academy Chicago Publications (Chicago, IL), 1985.

Inspector Ghote Goes by Train, Collins (London, England), 1971, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1972.

Inspector Ghote Trusts the Heart, Collins (London, England), 1972, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1973.

Bats Fly Up for Inspector Ghote, Collins (London, England), 1974, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1975.

Filmi, Filmi, Inspector Ghote, Collins (London, England), 1976, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1977.

Inspector Ghote Draws a Line, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1979.

The Murder of the Maharajah, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1980.

Go West, Inspector Ghote, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1981.

The Sheriff of Bombay, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1984.

Mrs. Craggs: Crimes Cleared Up, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1985.

Under a Monsoon Cloud, Viking (New York, NY), 1986.

The Body in the Billiard Room, Viking (New York, NY), 1987.

Dead on Time: An Inspector Ghote Mystery, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1989.

The Iciest Sin, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1990.

Cheating Death, Hutchinson (London, England), 1992, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1994.

Doing Wrong, O. Penzler (New York, NY), 1994.

Asking Questions, Macmillan (London, England), 1996.

Bribery, Corruption Also, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1999.

Breaking and Entering, Macmillan (London, England), 2000, Thomas Dunne (New York, NY), 2001.

Majumdar Uncle, Crippen & Landru Publishers (Norfolk, VA), 2003.


The Hard Detective, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 2000.

A Detective in Love, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 2002.

A Detective under Fire, Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2004.

The Dreaming Detective, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2004.

A Detective at Death's Door, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2005.

One Man and His Bomb, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2006.


Death and the Visiting Firemen, Gollancz (London, England), 1959, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1973.

Zen There Was Murder, Gollancz (London, England), 1960, Penguin (New York, NY), 1963.

A Rush on the Ultimate, Gollancz (London, England), 1961, reprinted, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1982.

The Dog It Was That Died (also see below), Gollancz (London, England), 1962, Penguin (New York, NY), 1968.

Death of a Fat God, Collins (London, England), 1963, Dutton (New York, NY), 1966.

Is Skin-Deep, Is Fatal, Dutton (New York, NY), 1965.

A Remarkable Case of Burglary, Collins (London, England), 1975, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1976.

The Rich Detective, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1993.

The Good Detective, Scribner (New York, NY), 1995.

The Soft Detective, Macmillan (London, England), 1997, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1998.

The Bad Detective, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1999.

Jack, the Lady Killer, Poison Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 1999.


The Strong Man, Heinemann (London, England), 1971.

The Underside, Macmillan (London, England), 1974.

A Long Walk to Wimbledon, Macmillan (London, England), 1978.

The Lucky Alphonse, Enigma Books (London, England), 1982.

(Under pseudonym Evelyn Hervey) The Governess, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1983.

(Under pseudonym Evelyn Hervey) The Man of Gold, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1985.

(Under pseudonym Evelyn Hervey) Into the Valley of Death, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1986.


(With uncle, Maurice Keating) Understanding Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Lutterworth (London, England), 1969.

Murder Must Appetize (literary criticism), Lemon Tree Press (London, England), 1975, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1981.

Sherlock Holmes: The Man and His World, Scribner (New York, NY), 1979.

Great Crimes, Harmony Books (New York, NY), 1982.

Writing Crime Fiction, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1986.

Crime and Mystery Fiction: The One Hundred Best Books, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 1987, 2nd edition, 1988.

The Bedside Companion to Crime, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1989.


The Dog It Was That Died (radio play; based on his novel of the same title), British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), 1971.

The Affair at No. 35 (radio play), BBC, 1972.

Inspector Ghote and the All-Bad Man (radio play), BBC, 1972.

Inspector Ghote Makes a Journey (radio play), BBC, 1973.

Inspector Ghote and the River Man (radio play), BBC, 1974.

(With Zafar Hai) The Perfect Murder (screenplay; adapted from his own novel), Perfect Movie Productions, 1990.


Blood on My Mind: A Collection of New Pieces by Members of the Crime Writers Association about Real Crimes, Some Notable and Some Obscure, Macmillan (London, England), 1972.

Agatha Christie: First Lady of Crime, Holt (New York, NY), 1977.

Crime Writers: Reflections on Crime Fiction, BBC Publications (London, England), 1978.

Whodunit? A Guide to Crime, Suspense, and Spy Fiction, Van Nostrand (New York, NY), 1982.

G.K. Chesterton, The Best of Father Brown, Dent (London, England), 1987, Tuttle (Rutland, VT), 1991.

The Man Who: Stories in Honour of Julian Symons's Eightieth Birthday, Macmillan (London, England), 1992.


Inspector Ghote, His Life and Crimes (short stories), Hutchinson (London, England), 1989.

In Kensington Gardens Once (short stories), Crippen & Landru (Norfolk, VA), 1997.

Contributor to books, including Dictionary of National Biography, Twentieth-Century Crime and Mystery Writers, Great Detective Stories, and Top Crime. Contributor to anthologies, including Ellery Queen's Mystery Parade, New American Library (New York, NY), 1968; Winter's Crimes 2, edited by George Hardinge, Macmillan (London, England), 1970; Ellery Queen's Murdercade, Random House (New York, NY), 1975; Winter's Crimes 7, edited by George Hardinge, Macmillan (London, England), 1975; Murder Ink: The Mystery Reader's Companion, edited by Dilys Winn, Workman Publishing (New York, NY), 1977; John Creasey's Crime Collection, edited by Herbert Harris, Gollancz (London, England), 1978; Verdict of Thirteen, edited by Julian Symons, Harper (New York, NY), 1979; Murder for Christmas, edited by Thomas Godfrey, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1987; Comic Crime, edited by Earl Bargainnier, Bowling Green Popular Press (Bowling Green, OH), 1987; Murder Takes a Holiday, edited by Barry Pike, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1989; The Rigby File, edited by Tim Heald, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1989; A Classic English Crime, edited by Tim Heald, Pavilion (London, England), 1990; The Oxford Book of English Detective Stories, edited by Patricia Craig, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1990; Great Law and Order Stories, edited by John Mortimer, Norton (New York, NY), 1992; and The Verdict of Us All, Crippen and Landru (Norfolk, VA), 2007. Contributor of short stories to Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and Blackwood's. Crime book reviewer, Times (London, England), 1967-83.


"H.R.F. Keating has been instrumental in widening the boundaries of the mystery novel," wrote a contributor to the Dictionary of Literary Biography. Through his popular series of mystery novels featuring Inspector Ganesh Ghote (pronounced "Go-tay") of the Bombay police, Keating has introduced social concerns, exotic locales, and the depiction of less-well-known ethnic groups into the crime novel format. Keating began writing about Inspector Ghote in the 1960s in order to find a character to market in America. Little did the author realize at the time that, over two dozen novels later, he would have created a fully realized and unique figure in the mystery genre. The reason for Ghote's long-lasting popularity, J.I.M. Stewart speculated in the Times Literary Supplement, is that, "unlike the majority of fictional detectives, [Ghote] is a man much like ourselves only more so: diffident, misdoubting his own powers, often sadly muddled by the unaccountable happenings assailing him. But at the same time he is endowed with a dim saving obstinacy and occasional flashes of anger." Newgate Callendar in the New York Times Book Review called Inspector Ghote "one of the more endearing personalities of contemporary crime fiction." Writing in the Library Journal, H.C. Veit maintained that Ghote "can hardly be over-praised; this prim and unsure little Indian policeman is one of the few classical creations."

Keating's literary career began at the instigation of his actress wife, who encouraged him to write crime novels because he enjoyed reading them so much. Each of his early novels "was an experiment of a different sort, and together they show Keating feeling his way toward his own idiom and beginning to discover that the mystery form need not be empty of thematic content," according to the Dictionary of Literary Biography essayist. The author gained an audience in Britain for works such as Zen There Was Murder, Death of a Fat God, and The Dog It Was That Died, but he realized that he could reach a wider audience if he conceived a detective that would, perhaps by his own exotic nature, appeal in England and America as well. Inspector Ghote made his debut in the ironically-titled The Perfect Murder, in which the generally bungling Ghote eventually "solves" a murder that did not occur, perpetrated against a man named Perfect. The novel won a prestigious Gold Dagger Award from the Crime Writers Association and launched Ghote as one of the most successful series sleuths in modern letters. Since that debut, Keating has annually published another Ghote thriller. The Dictionary of Literary Biography contributor noted: "Each novel tends to add information about the protagonist, but his presentation has remained remarkably consistent. He has grown, but the directions of the growth have always seemed implicit in the earlier characterizations."

In Doing Wrong, the inspector investigates the mysterious death of an Indian freedom fighter. Enduring a train packed with pilgrims to Benares, Ghote trails the killer, an ambitious local politician who must confront his conscience. According to William Marshall in the New York Times Book Review: "The strength of Doing Wrong is in this clash of moralities and duties and consciences. It is also, unfortunately, its weakness." Marshall concluded, nevertheless, that the novel is, "like all of Mr. Keating's past books, better than almost any other crime novel on the shelves these days." Prominent crime novelist Julian Symons, writing in the Times Literary Supplement, deemed the book "certainly the finest and most serious Ghote novel." Other well-received Ghote novels include Inspector Ghote Trusts the Heart, in which Ghote—normally a stickler for the rules—disobeys the orders of his superior and attempts to rescue a kidnapped child, and Under a Monsoon Cloud, in which Ghote helps a killer to cover up a murder. The Dictionary of Literary Biography essayist felt that, in Under a Monsoon Cloud, Ghote "has undergone a testing of greater depth and seriousness than in any of the earlier novels. He's still the same humble, self-effacing insecure man, but he has learned lessons of a profundity that should make him both a finer man and a more humane policeman."

In the St. James Guide to Crime and Mystery Writers, Keating stated: "While the [Ghote] books do provide a reasonably accurate picture of today's India—a picture conditioned, I admit, by the fact that for the first ten years I wrote about Ghote I had not actually visited his country—I like to think they chiefly put a recognizable human being into broad general situations likely to happen to any one of us." More recently Keating declared that Breaking and Entering, published in 2000 in England, would be the final Ghote novel. "Certainly I've found it hard to part with my old friend, not to say alter ego," he admitted in an essay on the TW Books Web site. "But, if there never is another one, I have by no means let my trusty word-processor slip from my nerveless hand. India has passed away: England awaits."

Keating kept this promise in his "Hard Detective" series featuring Detective Superintendent Harriet Martens. In A Detective in Love, Martens and her husband, John Piddock, maintain a nontraditional open marriage in which either is welcome to have an extramarital fling without jeopardizing their relationship. A good thing, as Harriet has developed quite an infatuation with Inspector Anselm Brent, assisting in the investigation of the stabbing death of tennis star Bubbles Xingara. The list of suspects runs the gamut from a spurned French mobster; an aggrieved California coach fired by Bubbles's stepfather; an obsessed poet; and a resentful childhood friend. Few seem to present any promising leads. As the suspects are considered and rejected, Keating traces the development of Martens's doomed affair and the steps—"predictable but by turns touching, amusing, and painful—in the course of a forbidden love that can't possibly run smooth," commented a Kirkus Reviews writer.

Martens nearly succumbs to the lethal work of a serial poisoner in the opening pages of A Detective at Death's Door. At a party, Harriet's drink is spiked with a pinch of the strong, flower-derived poison aconitine. It is only through the quick efforts of her husband, John, who has recently been reading about the poison in an Agatha Christie mystery novel, that she is saved. However, the effects of the poison are severe, and she faces a long and difficult recovery. As more poisonings occur and the deaths begin to mount, Martens chafes at her inability to actively join the investigation. Instead, the case is handled by her law-enforcement colleagues, particularly Superintendent Pat Murphy, while she recuperates. As the victims become more and more prominent, including a former mayor of Birchester, Murphy has the case taken away from him by the odious Commander Rance of the National Crime Squad. Meanwhile, a scoundrel identified as "Mentor" publishes a letter in the newspaper, claiming responsibility for the poisonings and threatening more attacks unless a million-pound ransom is paid. Martens knows who put the poison in her drink, but is the old lady she saw really the murderous Mentor? Booklist reviewer Connie Fletcher called the novel "a marvelous example of Keating's craft."

In One Man and His Bomb, Keating "explores the post-9/11 environment gracefully," noted Booklist reviewer David Pitt. The effects of terrorism strike hard at Harriet Martens when her twin sons, Graham and Malcolm, new constables working in London, are victims of a terrorist bombing. Graham is killed, while Malcolm is seriously wounded. Wracked with grief and worry, Harriet is assigned to a new case and charged with recovering a stolen biological weapon, a virulent genetically modified herbicide likely to be acquired by terrorists. As she searches for the thief and the herbicide, she must also deal with the harsh realities that life in law enforcement brings her. Martens's cases "always try her strength, but this one may be the hardest yet," observed a contributor to Kirkus Reviews.

Keating tried a nonconventional approach to mystery writing in his Jack, the Lady Killer. Like the Inspector Ghote novels, the story is set in India. However, the novel takes on a unique form as the story is told entirely in rhyming verse. The story follows police officer Jack Steele, young and idealistic, as he solves crimes in the days of the British Raj. When a woman of dubious morals is found murdered, the police assume that the murderer is a local. However, as the clues accumulate, they point toward the involvement of Jack Steele himself. Burdened by suspicion, Jack must work to clear his name as well as to uncover the identity and motives of the killer. Keating "does manage to make his strings of stanzas fit his story; after a few dozen tetrameter couplets, readers will find the verse transparent, even entertaining," observed a Publishers Weekly critic.

Among Keating's nonseries novels is The Bad Detective, which traces the descent into corruption of a British cop, Detective Sergeant Jack Stallworthy. Even though he is dishonest, Stallworthy is not unsympathetic—his initial motivation for taking a bribe, after all, is to buy a car for his beloved wife, Lily. As he approaches retirement, he begins to realize that his pension and carefully secreted stash of additional funds will not be enough to fund his leisure years, especially since Lily wants to move to the prohibitively expensive tropical island of Ko Samui. His dilemma appears solved when he is approached by computer businessman Emslie Warnaby. In exchange for a particular folder of information held at police headquarters, Warnaby will provide Jack with tickets to Ko Samui and the deed to a hotel there. Soon, Stallworthy finds himself desperately working all the angles available to him to get the file, including committing breaking and entering, even as the deadline set by Warnaby ticks away. "Keating's low-key sense of humor and his dexterity at making a crooked protagonist sympathetic are firmly in place," commented a Publishers Weekly critic. Reviewer Emily Melton, writing in Booklist, remarked that The Bad Detective, and Keating's many other novels of crime and detection, "are perfect for thinking readers who want to be stirred, stimulated, and roused—as well as entertained."

Keating's nonfiction writing also focuses on the mystery genre. The award-winning Sherlock Holmes: The Man and His World is a detailed analysis of the rapidly changing English society of the 1890s in which the Sherlock Holmes adventures are set. Keating relates Holmes to his society and shows him to be a product of his time, in tune with both the rationalistic, moralistic Victorians and the "rebellious Edwardians," as Cathy Clancy explained in the School Library Journal. In Whodunit? A Guide to Crime, Suspense, and Spy Fiction, Keating provides the mystery genre with a wide-ranging reference tome. It is "one of the best," Jon L. Breen stated in the Armchair Detective, "including some of the most beautifully written and most penetrating … essays on mystery fiction."

"Keating stands at the forefront of those writing in the vein of the traditional mystery today, both for his use of conventional forms and motifs and for his originality within the constrictions of the genre," observed an essayist in the Dictionary of Literary Biography. "His understanding of his form is penetrating, and his practice has been skilled. His creation, Inspector Ghote, may not be of equal stature with Sherlock Holmes, Lord Peter Wimsey, and Hercule Poirot, but he is more human than any of these great predecessors. His very fallibility and humility make him a refreshing contrast to his literary ancestors. But most particularly, Keating's use of the mystery novel simply as a novel which tells a story and says something about the human condition places him among the leaders of his craft."



Bargainnier, Earl F., editor, Twelve Englishmen of Mystery, Popular Press, 1984.

Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series, Volume 8, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1989.

Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 87: British Mystery and Thriller Writers since 1940, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1989.

Keating, H.R.F., editor, Whodunit? A Guide to Crime, Suspense, and Spy Fiction, Van Nostrand (New York, NY), 1982.

St. James Guide to Crime and Mystery Writers, 4th edition, St. James (Detroit, MI), 1996.

Symons, Julian, Bloody Murder, Harper (New York, NY), 1972, 2nd edition, Viking (New York, NY), 1985.

Tamaya, Meera, H.R.F. Keating, Post-Colonial Detection: A Critical Study, Bowling Green State University Press (Bowling Green, OH), 1993.


Armchair Detective, spring, 1996, review of The Good Detective, p. 237.

Booklist, September 15, 1998, David Pitt, review of The Soft Detective, p. 203; August, 1999, Emily Melton, review of The Bad Detective, p. 2034; May 1, 2000, Connie Fletcher, review of The Hard Detective, p. 1621; May 1, 2005, Connie Fletcher, review of A Detective at Death's Door, p. 1526; May 15, 2006, David Pitt, review of One Man and His Bomb, p. 27.

Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2002, review of A Detective in Love, p. 1509; December 15, 2003, review of A Detective under Fire, p. 1427; November 15, 2004, review of The Dreaming Detective, p. 1071; April 1, 2005, review of A Detective at Death's Door, p. 389; June 1, 2006, review of One Man and His Bomb, p. 550.

Kliatt, March, 2003, Mary I. Purucker, review of A Detective in Love, p. 59.

Library Journal, April 1, 1977, review of Filmi, Filmi, Inspector Ghote, p. 837; November 1, 1995, Rex E. Klett, review of The Good Detective, p. 110; December, 2002, Rex E. Klett, review of A Detective in Love, p. 184; July 1, 2006, Jo Ann Vicarel, "Mystery," review of One Man and His Bomb, p. 52.

New York Times Book Review, April 10, 1977, Newgate Callendar, review of Filmi, Filmi, Inspector Ghote, p. 34; November 7, 1982, review of Go West, Inspector Ghote, p. 51; November 6, 1994, William Marshall, review of Doing Wrong, p. 34.

Publishers Weekly, August 1, 1994, review of The Rich Detective, p. 73; October 9, 1995, review of The Good Detective, p. 79; August 17, 1998, review of The Soft Detective, p. 51; June 21, 1999, review of Bribery, Corruption Also, p. 59; August 30, 1999, review of The Bad Detective, p. 56; November 29, 1999, review of Jack, the Lady Killer, p. 56; April 17, 2000, review of The Hard Detective, p. 55; December 6, 2004, review of The Dreaming Detective, p. 46; April 18, 2005, "May Publications," review of A Detective at Death's Door, p. 47; June 19, 2006, review of One Man and His Bomb, p. 43.

School Library Journal, January, 1980, Cathy Claney, review of Sherlock Holmes: The Man and His World, p. 84.

Time, December 22, 1986, William A. Henry, III, review of Under a Monsoon Cloud, p. 75; April 26, 1993, William A. Henry, III, review of The Rich Detective, p. 68.

Times Literary Supplement, March 17, 1966, review of Inspector Ghote's Good Crusade, p. 230; June 15, 1967, review of Inspector Ghote Caught in the Meshes, p. 543; December 31, 1971, review of Inspector Ghote Goes by Train, p. 1638; June 5, 1981, review of To West, Inspector Ghote, p. 642; October 29, 1982, review of The Lucky Alphonse, p. 1203; October 26, 1984, review of The Sheriff of Bombay, p. 1225; July 10, 1992, Paul Spike, review of Cheating Death, p. 20; May 6, 1994, Julian Symons, review of Doing Wrong, p. 20.

Washington Post Book World, January 16, 1983, Jean M. White, "Whodunit?," p. 10.


Fantastic Fiction Web site, (March 10, 2007), bibliography of H.R.F. Keating.

H.R.F. Keating, (March 10, 2007).

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Keating, H.R.F. 1926- (Evelyn Hervey, H. Reymond Fitzwalter Keating, Henry Reymond Fitzwalter Keating)

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