On the day he retires, Inspector Ashwin Chopra inherits two unexpected mysteries.
The first is the case of a drowned boy, whose suspicious death no one seems to want solved. And the second is a baby elephant.
As his search for clues takes him across the teeming city of Mumbai, from its grand high rises to its sprawling slums and deep into its murky underworld, Chopra begins to suspect that there may be a great deal more to both his last case and his new ward than he thought.
And he soon learns that when the going gets tough, a determined elephant may be exactly what an honest man needs...
A faulty heart has forced the early retirement of Mumbai's Insp. Ashwin Chopra, the hero of Khan's winning debut, but the discovery of a young man drowned in a puddle of water upsets the policeman's last day on the job. Neither Chopra's superior nor successor has any interest in investigating, though an autopsy later reveals that the victim had alcohol and barbiturates in his blood. Retired or not, Chopra decides he has to get to the bottom of the man's suspicious death. Meanwhile, Chopra has inherited a baby elephant, soon named Ganesh, from his favorite uncle. Initially listless, Ganesh perks up once he begins to accompany Chopra around the city in what becomes a murder inquiry. Khan's affection for Mumbai and its residents adds to the novel's charm, though one hopes he'll be more careful with the details in the sequel (e.g., women would never wear lotus blossoms in their hair; they're too heavy).
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this story is at its heart, incredibly sweet
I’ll be honest, it was the synopsis and the fact this title was set in India that had me curious: even though I’m not a huge mystery reader I was expecting a twist on the more well-known stories by Alexander McCall Smith and his No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, rich with the feel, life and people. And Vaseem Khan completely met and exceeded those expectations with this book.
Oh of course, it is a crime fiction story, and there are moments that hit that disturbing mark of ‘how could anyone do that’, but Chopra is so engaging and likable, flamboyant with a great deal of optimism and hope for good things to happen, it is hard not to be influenced by his manner. His wife, complete with a subplot of her own, is also fascinating, and the images, scenes and feel of the setting are so vividly presented you can almost scent the breeze on the air.
I don’t believe that anyone can resist a baby elephant, and there are so many sweet (yes – this story is at its heart, incredibly sweet) scenes as Chopra takes this unexpected life into his keeping, and the two travel on to discover the many correlations between them. Oh the mystery was clever, but presented in a way that just felt like days in the life. Lyrical and near poetic, the writing is smooth and the imagery is solid and evocative. I tend to the lighter side of the mystery genre, it’s often the characters and settings that draw me in and have me returning to an author: I’ll certainly be looking forward to the next from Vaseem Khan.
I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.