Vaseem Khan has a passion for elephants, India and writing as well as a connection with crime science. All these ingredients thrown into a literary mix have turned out a unique murder mystery set in Mumbai.
We are introduced to tenacious crime fighter Ashwin Chopra and his sidekick Ganesha – a baby elephant Chopra has inherited from an enigmatic uncle. Chopra is forced into early retirement from the police but despite leaving his job is determined to investigate a suspicious death which takes him on a dangerous journey with young Ganesha playing an important role in the action.
Khan’s language conjures up the colours, chaos, smells and cacophony of the Indian metropolis and weaves in cultural contrasts from sprawling slums, grim sewers and the sleazy underworld to Westernised shopping malls and silk saris. It is the chaotic city experienced first hand by Khan…
“I worked in India as a management consultant from ‘97 to 2007 and the book is imbued with many wonderful memories. One of the first things I saw was an overcrowded road with rickshaws, people, cows and dogs … and an enormous grey elephant lumbering down the centre! It was bizarre. I just knew I had to write about it. Another time I was caught in a monsoon that killed 100 people – I brought that into the story too. In Chopra I wanted to reverse the perception that the Indian police force is universally corrupt and show that police procedure everywhere is similar, ever reliant on, say, forensics for clues. Chopra is an honest man, who cares about the social ills in his country, and is determined to put right the wrongs he encounters.”
But the real star of the book is Ganesha.
“Elephants are incredibly self aware – they even recognise themselves in a mirror. The dynamic between Chopra and Ganesha can only happen because elephants are such highly emotional, intelligent creatures.”
This inspired whodunnit is the first of a series of four Baby Ganesh Agency Investigations (Khan has been commissioned to write another three). We predict pre-orders and queues for the follow-ups, a TV series in the offing or even a movie. The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra is captivating and chilling – crime fiction at its most irresistible.
Go listen to Vas Khan’s colourful talk, buy a book or two and if you are tempted with an expedition to Asia our local travel experts Ultimate Destinations, together with reps from Western and Oriental, will be on hand to advise.
An Evening with Vaseem Khan including Indian nibbles, wines and Indian beers
Thurs 10 Sept, The Junction, Christ Church, WD3 5SG, 7pm for 7.30pm. £8, Book £7 on the night with voucher (RRP £12.99)
Tickets from Chorleywood Bookshop, WD3 5NJ 01923 283566