To call this a meta-mystery would be too pretentious for such a light-hearted book, but that's in effect what it is. The detective, Ghote, an overworked and very insecure Bombay policeman, has been invited to a former exclusive Birtish colony in South India by a man who is steeped in classic British mysteries. Having read about Ghote's prowess (presumably in other books by Keating!), he assumes him to be the rightful heir to Holmes and Poirot, and presents him with what appears to him to be a classic locked-door mystery: a body on a billiard table. His first briefing contains a sentence to the effect "Of course we assume that the fact that the billiard-room window was smashed and the club's silver trophies stolen is merely a trick to throw us off the scent." And so it goes. Ghote goes through the book haunted by this flattery as a great detective of fiction, and does to a certain extent follow the pattern, but in the end comes up with a solution that nonetheless fits the more prosaic norms of routine policework!
As a matter of personal disclosure, I should confess that I did not read this book in the original, but rather in Spanish translation while working in Central America. My own cultural and language shift may have heightened my appreciation of the similar shifts in the book, as Ghote is sent from his familar Bombay not only to a virtually foreign part of his country, but also to a living relic of a different era, and a vanished colonial culture. Since my own father was born in India, the son of one such government official who must have frequented clubs like the one in the book, and since I too have become an expatriate of a different sort, I found the picure that Keating paints of post-colonial India to be rather touching.