In its Afterword, Rumer Godden calls Cromartie vs. the God Shiva a twin to Coromandel Sea Change. It is partially set in the same location, the Patna Hotel on the Coromandel Sea, and has some of the same characters. When I realized this, I was excited, because I loved that book.
Michael Dean is chosen by his law firm to represent the government of India against Mr. Cromartie, a Canadian art dealer who is alleged to have purchased a stolen statue of the God Shiva worth a quarter of a million dollars. The statue was purchased from him, but now he is suing for money, so the government has to prove it was stolen.
Michael travels to the hotel. The statue was originally found when the hotel was built, so the owner made a shrine for it in the hotel ballroom. A noted archaeologist, Dr. Ellen Webster, had examined it several years before and told Auntie Sanni, the hotel manager, that it was valuable. A few years later, she realized it had been substituted for a good fake. When Michael questions the employees about it, they are all oddly evasive, and Auntie Sanni advises him to leave it alone. Dr. Webster arrives with her yearly tour group, and Michael falls in love at first sight with her assistant, Artemis.
This novel is a peculiar mixture. It evokes the flavors and smells of the village as do most of Godden’s India-set novels, but it turns into more of a mystery story. I don’t think it is quite as successful as some of her others, although it was nice to return to the Coromandel Sea. I believe this is my last book in my project to read Rumer Godden’s India novels.