"The Perfect Murder" by H.R.F Keating

(publisher not recorded) Aylesbury, Bucks, 1964
(an earlier ed.: London: Dutton, 1963)

pp.40-41: He allowed himself to think just once of his wife, Protima, and what she would be feeling about the fact that at the end of his spell of night duty he had not returned home. And then he set to work on the desperately delicate task of (* WEIGHING THE DEMANDS OF THE ATTACK ON MR. PERFECT AGAINST THOSE OF THE THEFT OF ONE RUPEE *) from under the very nose of the Minister of Police Affairs and the Arts.

p.41: He had done no more than miserably (* STARE AT THE PROBLEM *) before they arrived at the Ministry.

p.41: And there he found that he had only one desire in all the world: to rush to a telephone and find out whether there had been any change in Mr. Perfect. (* FIRMLY HE PUSHED THE IMPULSE TO THE BACK OF HIS MIND*) . He was at the Ministry; he was on the missing rupee case; the only logical and proper thing was to proceed with his duty as it lay before him.

p.48: He stared at Inspector Ghote with sudden arrogance. (* THE INSPECTOR'S THOUGHTS JUMPED AND LEAPT ABOUT. *) It seemed to him a long time before he was able (* TO PIN ONE OF THEM DOWN *) .

p.61: Lala Varde gave a monstrous, unconcerned yawn. Inspector Ghote (* SEIZED HIS RUNAWAY TEMPER AND TETHERED IT SHARPLY BACK *) . He took a deep, long, measured breath.

p.61: "I tell you Inspector, if I ran my business by keeping notes of every little time that I stood up or sat down, no money would I have, not one anna." (* THE INSPECTOR TOOK THE VEILED POINT. *) "Exactly, sahib," he said.

p.66: "Sir," said Inspector Ghote, "officers of the Bombay police naturally have command of English. It is necessary to their work. Also I have not come about the servants." (* HE FELT HIS ANGER RISING STEP BY STEP, *) and had just enough power over himself to keep it in check. (* HE CAST HIS MIND ROUND. *) There ought to be some way of dealing with a person like this. Doctor Gross would not have been at a loss.

p.90: Inspector Ghote listened to the tirade (* WITH LITTLE GUSHES OF HOT ANGER SHOOTING OUT INSIDE HIM TILL HE FELT ON THE POINT OF BURSTING. *) Threatening a police officer. Who did he think he was? He needed to be shown pretty quick that that sort of thing didn't work in Ind-(* AND THE TRICKLE OF COLD DOUBT *) . Hadn't he heard gossip at the station?

p.90: (* THE THOUGHT *) of his wife, of his boy Ved, of their neat new house in Government Quarters (* CAME INTO HIS MIND WITH THE SUDDENESS OF A CLANGING BELL. METHODICALLY HE PUSHED THE THOUGHT DOWN AGAIN. *) He was a police officer. All his life he had wanted this, and now he had achieved it.

p.96: "But no-" began the big Swede. Inspector Ghote interrupted him before (* HIS WRATH FULLY EXPLODED. *)

p.96: "No, thank you." (* INSPECTOR GHOTE STILL RETAINED SOME POLITENESS. BUT BEFORE LONG THE LAST OF IT HAD EVAPORATED IN THE...AIR. *) They questioned almost a hundred people. They pursued a dozen false trails. And they were nowhere nearer finding their quarry.

p.96: Occasionally a vision of Mr. Perfect lying on the old string bed in Arun Varde's house troubled him for a little. But even this had to take second place to the ceaseless (* PLODDING TO AND FRO OF THEIR INQUIRIES. *) In spite of frequent visits to sellers of mysterious bottles of highly-coloured, faintly-sweet mineral waters his mouth felt as dry as cinders.

p.109: She put out her hand and rested it on his chest. And then with a single sigh she was asleep. For a few moments he was able to contemplate the complications of his waking existence without (* THE REMOTEST TRACE OF WORRY. *) The Minister's rupee and who had stolen it: the long, emaciated form of Mr.Perfect lying unconscious in Lala Varde's house, carrying obscurely his own fate in each faint puff of breath. (* THE TWO FACTS FLOATED IN FRONT OF HIM FOR A LITTLE WHILE, *) and then he too was asleep. To be woken after a very few hours by the shrilling of the telephone. And at once (* ALL HIS PRECONCEPTIONS STOOD UP IN HIS MIND LIKE SOLDIERS ROUSED FROM BRIEF SLUMBER ON THE BATTLEFIELD, IN AN INSTANT ALERT, PROBING, RESTLESS. *) How had that rupee note disappeared from the drawer in the Minister's desk when no one had been into the room? What was it that young Prem Varde had been about to say when his father had come bursting in?

p.115: The voice was chastened, subdued. In a sudden flush of sweat Inspector Ghote let the receiver fall back into place. (* WITH ANXIETY FLICKING AND GNAWING AT HIM AT EVERY OTHER INSTANT *) he got dressed as quickly as he could and tried to eat something.

p.148: "Exactly," said Gautam Athayle. "So it will come as no surprise to you to learn that I was pressed to stay on in a fashion which frankly left me no alternative but to comply after I would have wished to leave. It is my habit to retire moderately early." The inspector nodded in sympathetic agreement, and (* GAVE A FLEETING THOUGHT TO *) his long nights on duty and the sleepless days that so often followed them.

pp.152-153: From what he had been able to gather this was the present verdict. For how many days, or weeks even, would it be the same? No change. Still teetering on the edge of death. Still able in one moment to make all the difference to his own life and prospects. (* THE THOUGHT DRUMMED DARKLY IN HIS HEAD. *) With Mr. Perfect still alive, however tenuously, the possibility was still open of patiently working a way through the complexities and intricacies of the whole business till at last an answer emerged, till the facts yielded up, as they must, to logical and calm examination.

p.153: There could not be any real logical connection between the facts of the case and the old Parsi's physical state. Yet for all his efforts (* THE SOMBRE BLACK THOUGHTS ROLLED OUT. *) Back in his office he could see only one refuge.

p.157: "She wishes to rule her husband with an iron rod. She fears he is getting too ambitious, too unlike her friend Gautam Athalye. And so, like a goddess she crushes this Mr. Perfect who is encouraging the wildnesses". (* BENEATH THE CRASHING AND ROARING OF THE SWEDE'S ANALYSIS A TINY NOTION CREPT INTO THE INSPECTOR'S HEAD. *) That is utter nonsense, he thought. If Lakshmi Varde was that sort of woman she would have forced her husband to part with his secretary long ago. (* HE LET THE THOUGHT LIE LIKE A COOL GEM IN HIS MIND *) and said nothing.

p.159: ...in the huge heaving crowd Ghote was totally unable to get near the next two buses that came along. The third he did catch, by now (* FUMING WITH BAD TEMPER. *) And it turned out that his barely supressed spite against the whole world was shared by most of the other passengers as well as the bus crew.

p.159: When at last Ghote passed the familiar board saying "Government of India Staff Quarters. Class 2. No tresspassers", (* HE WAS CHOKING WITH BLACK RAGE, *) sweat-stained and thirsty, grimly tired and implacably conscious of the fact that, although he was in the wrong, he would be unable to keep calm if his wife even so much as hinted at reproach.

p.160: There was something unexplained too about the garden itself. (* HE GROPED ROUND IN THE HEAVY STICKINESS OF HIS MIND FOR A CLUE. *) And then he realised what was the matter.

p.161: "Time," she said. "How should I know what time it is? Other women can tell the time easily enough: they have husbands who come home when they have finished at the office and go out to get there again next morning. But I have to wait at home all day, all evening and all night. How should I know what time it is?" (* A LITTLE FLAME OF RAGE BURNED UP THROUGH THE THICK FUZZ IN GHOTE'S HEAD. *) "I have to know the time," he said.

p.161: "Late. Too late." (* BLIND WAVES OF PANIC SWEPT OVER AND OVER HIM. *) "The time, the time," he yelled.

p.176: "Mr Varde," he said, "you yourself may not object to being heard by anybody who passes, but what I have to talk are police matters and I prefer to deal with them in private." (* AN IDEA HOVERED FOR A MOMENT NEAR THE EDGE OF HIS MIND, AND WITHOUT HAVING TIME TO WEIGH ITS MERITS HE SEIZED ON IT. *) Wheeling quickly he walked the few steps to the doorway of the little room where Mr. Perfect had been found lying in a trickle of his own blood.

p.177: Or was he being ridiculous in insisting on dragging a respectable citizen into a cluttered up disused lobby to ask his questions about a crime he himself had reported? And (* THERE WAS SOMETHING ELSE TEASING AWAY AT THE BACK OF HIS MIND, SOMETHING ELSE WHICH HE HAD TO DEAL WITH. *) The lack of a quick decision was fatal.

p.177: Lala Varde smiled comfortably, and the inspector knew that he had to concede the point. Was it more than just a point? (* HE PUSHED THE WHOLE COMPLEX OF THOUGHTS BRUSQUELY AWAY *) "Very well, Mr. Varde, "he said, "if that is the way you prefer it, I am perfectly willing to say what I have got to say just where we are."

pp.214-215: "Yes, exactly," Ram Kamath spat out at him. "You get yourself a wife. You buy things for her. Saris, bangles, sweetmeets. And you beget a child, and feed it and clothe it." Inspector Ghote (* TRIED TO ANAESTHETISE HIS MIND. *) With a shorter pause than before Ram Kamath went on. "You spend money, Mr. Inspector," he said. "You spend out good money." For a moment (* THE THOUGHT OF PROTIMA'S IMPORTUNATE DEMANDS FOR THE REFRIGERATOR CAME INTO GHOTE'S MIND, BUT HE THRUST THE VISION LOYALLY AWAY. *) "You know I am not married?" Ram Kamath said, walking away now into a far corner of the big room.

p.216: He took a deep breath and forced himself to concentrate on the matter of the missing rupee. (* HE WENT OVER IN HIS MIND EVERYTHING HE HAD LEARNT ABOUT IT, AND AT THE END OF IT HE FOUND HIMSELF BACK WHERE HE HAD BEGUN. *) The ten one-rupee notes put into the drawer in the empty office, the door watched and no other means of entry, and at the end of an hour one of the ten notes missing. Full circles, except for one possible line (* THE LINE THAT HAD COME INTO HIS MIND *) as he had watched the fat halwa merchant teasing his boy so cruelly. And here something still felt unaccounted for. (* HE REACHED INTO THE BACK OF HIS MIND. PRYING FINGERTIPS JUST TOUCHING A TINY NEGLECTED NUGGET OF INFORMATION. AND SUDDENLY HE HAD IT. IT HAD BEEN GIVEN TO HIM WHEN HIS ATTENTION HAD BEEN CONCENTRATED ON THE PERFECT CASE AND HE HAD CONTRIVED FOR THAT REASON TO IGNORE IT. *)

pp.249-250: Ghote groaned. He knew he ought not to be just sitting like this, but he felt too depressed even (* TO THINK OF THE POSSIBLE STEPS HE COULD TAKE TO GET A FRESH ANGLE. *) The air around him seemed thick as a heavy liquid. He lacked the vital force to fight his way through it.

pp.250-251: How could Mr. Perfect go on living, unless the rain came? And the inspector knew, (* WITH IRON-PRESSED CERTAINTY *), that for all the taste of rain on his dry tongue, it might not come before nightfall.

p.254: (* A WILD IDEA BEGAN TO GROW, LIKE THE RAIN-RESTORED PLANTS, IN THE INSPECTOR'S BRAIN. *) "Ram Kamath," he bawled into Lala Varde's ear. "You were doing a secret deal with Ram Kamath on the night of the murder?"

p.254: He slapped time and again at his great rain-sodden sides with a noise resembling a volley of canon fire. (* THE THOUGHTS SWAM IN THE INSPECTOR'S HEAD*) like the debris twisting and whirling in the roaring runnels of the house. (* AND THE LAST PIECE FELL INTO PLACE. *)