The Rich Detective

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Bill Sylvester is an ordinary detective inspector in a provincial English community. He’s not exceptionally brilliant nor is he legendary among his colleagues for his insight or an impressive arrest record. Indeed, Bill Sylvester is a commonplace individual who followed his dead patrolman father into the police more out of a desire to see justice done than to achieve wealth or power. He is not a deft hand at departmental politics and thus is quite a trial to his more astute superiors. It is this latter characteristic which proves Sylvester’s downfall as a policeman.

On the basis of evidence received, Sylvester is instructed to investigate the possibility that a socially prominent dealer in antiques might be engaged in fraud and murder. Specifically, that Charles Roanoke persuades inmates of retirement homes to alter their wills so as to make him a prominent beneficiary and then murders them before they change their minds. Sylvester becomes convinced of Roanoke’s guilt, but he is unable to develop proof sufficient to bring him to trial.

Moreover, his investigation provokes his quarry, and Roanoke uses his influence to have the inquiry abandoned. Fortunately, Sylvester purchases a winning lottery ticket and with his substantial prize he is afforded an opportunity to pursue the murderous Roanoke free of official interference. Roanoke is brought to book, but the cost— personal and professional—is almost more than Sylvester can accept.

Those readers devoted to the exploits of Inspector Ghote will not be disappointed in this new addition to Keating’s body of work. Moreover, if the closing paragraphs are any indication of Keating’s literary plans, Bill Sylvester will continue to satisfy his obsession with truth and justice.