It is a hot and humid October in Mumbai, India, and Inspector Ganesh Ghote is annoyed that Deputy Commissioner Kabir has assigned him to find a cat burglar instead of a murderer. The perpetrator, who has been nicknamed "Yeshwant" (a large and nimble climbing lizard) by a pushy female journalist, climbed through quite a few windows in the middle of the night and absconded with expensive jewelry. Although other investigators have already looked into the matter, Ghote must interview all of the victims once again, looking for that elusive clue that will solve this difficult case.
Much to Ghote's chagrin, his solitude is interrupted by the loud voice of Axel Svensson, a large Swede who helped Ganesh investigate a murder some years ago. Axel, a childless widower whose wife is dead, once worked for UNESCO and the Swedish Department of Justice. He is retired and has returned to India, anxious to be Ghote's sidekick once again.
"Breaking and Entering," by H. R. F. Keating, is a witty and skillfully constructed novel. Although Ghote's first instinct is to ditch Axel, this proves to be no easy task. Svensson often tags along as Ghote makes the rounds of the houses where Yeshwant has struck, and surprisingly, his presence sometimes proves useful. Ghote is anxious to figure out just how the burglar knew which homeowners had valuable jewels ripe for the picking.
Although Inspector Ghote is not particularly daring or aggressive, he is clever and alert, and eventually he solves not just one puzzle, but two. "Breaking and Entering" is at times too talky and repetitious. However, it is an engaging character study of a man who has little ambition to rise above his rank, but enough pride and tenacity to keep pursuing his elusive quarry. Keating has a lively sense of fun, and he enjoys exploring the ways in which men and women rationalize their misdeeds. The book's colorful atmosphere, low-key suspense, and gentle humor make this an entertaining and amusing mystery.