John Masters, 68, the noted author whose works concerning life in India under the Raj include "Bhowani Junction" and "Night Runners of Bengal," died May 7 in a hospital here after surgery for a heart ailment. He had lived in Santa Fe, N.M., for the past 14 years.

Mr. Masters was born in Calcutta, India, and was a graduate of the Royal Military College at Sandhurst. He was an officer in the British Army during World War II, serving in Burma, Iran and Iraq. After the war, he served for a time in the Indian Army, with active service on the Northwest Frontier. At the age of 33, he attained the rank of brigadier.

He taught for a time at Sandhurst, then came to this country in the late 1940s. He became an American citizen in 1954.

"Night Runners of Bengal" was based on the Sepoy mutiny of 1857 in India. "Bhowani Junction," which became a film starring Stewart Granger and Ava Gardner, dealt with the period just before the Indian emancipation in 1947.

He wrote nearly two dozen books that displayed his intimate knowledge of India. "The Deceivers" was based on the Hindu murder cult called thuggee. "Coromandel" was another of his better-known works.

Other works included the autobiographical "Road Past Mandalay," and "Bugles and a Tiger." He once noted that although most of his work was fiction, "I hope my writing is also a work of history, because I have tried to give a feel of the times and a sense of historical perspective."

His hobbies included hiking. He was a founder of the Santa Fe Chili and Marching Society.

Survivors include his wife, a son, a daughter, a stepson, a stepdaughter, and a brother.