The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra by Vaseem Khan

Author Vaseem Khan first saw the elephant that inspired The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra during a trip to Mumbai almost 20 years before writing this, his debut novel.

We meet the title character, Inspector Chopra, in the modern city of Mumbai  on the day that he is forced into early retirement from the police force. This is also the day that he happens to inherit a baby elephant from his uncle, who he names Ganesha. Given that Chopra lives in an apartment building and knows nothing about animals, this proves to be a problem.

Whilst the former detective’s wife Poppy is delighted by his retirement, when the unexplained death of a local boy is largely ignored by Chopra’s replacement he takes it upon himself to investigate the murder on behalf of the boy’s poor family. What follows is a story that paints a wonderful picture of India and its vibrancy, while delving into the sinister side of the Mumbai underworld.

The secondary characters in this book steal the show, especially the elephant, Ganesha and Chopra’s wife, Poppy, who, at one point, sit side by side watching soap operas on television with a bowl of banana chips between them.

I loved the mention of foods, customs and culture and felt like I was learning a great deal while enjoying the book and so I am looking forward to his next novel, “The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the Crown”.