#TheUnexpectedInheritenceOfInspectorChopra Mini Spoiler Free Book Review
Vaseem Khan's first story of the Baby Ganesh Detective Agency, entitled The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra, is a charming story detailing the early retirement of Inspector Chopra, an Indian police detective with an upstanding reputation and a unscrupulous moral code of conduct.
Due to health reasons, Chopra is forced into early retirement, and finds the sudden shift from active detective to a man of leisure disconcerting and he struggles to adapt. He is unable to let sleeping dogs lie in the way of a murder case, after an up and coming entrepeneur is found suspisciously drowned and the boy's mother is convinced the corrupt Indian forces will do little to find justice. Despite it being his his final day of employment and being reprimanded by his replacement, Chopra can't let the case go without investigation.
Chopra's titular unexpected inheritance is that of a baby elephant called Ganesha that is bequeathed to him by his uncle, and who gives Chopra and his Wife Poppy a new responsibility to contend with. Unable to have children of their own, the story also touches upon social stigmas of these types of situations. The developing relationships between Poppy and Ganesha, Chopra and Ganesha and indeed Poppy and Chopra quickly become absorbing, and I found myself very emotionally attached to the three of them as a family unit.
Khan maintains a good ballance of serious and lighthearted elements throughout, covering the difficulties of Indian family life, social pressures and the added responsibility of Ganesha, versus descriptions of events from the gritty, criminal undergrowth and inclusion of seedy, political corruption. The plot does kind of culminate with a typically Miss Marple 'bad guy reveals all' before Chopra quite has time to find all the evidence he needs to support his claim. This feels a little cheesy, yet somehow appropriate for this story, and didn't reduce my enjoyment at all.
Without wanting to spoil the book as per usual, I will just say that the story is interesting and, for lack of a better word, really charming. It's not groundbreaking - there is little in the way of shocking revelations within the plot, but the solid story craft and memorable cast make up for this.
It's also really nice to read a piece of detective fiction set somewhere different - I am fairly new to the genre but reading a story from the Indian setting was really interesting for me, especially as the book details the ever growing expanse between the poor and upper classes really well, and describes the sites, smells and sounds effectively.
I would recommend this story for anybody looking for a fairly easy going read, maybe something for on the deck chair beside the pool, as well as fans of detective fiction in general. It does feel a little cheesy and easy at times, but I was still smiling frequently throughout as well as being suitably gripped during the more tense moments.