Watches are traditional retirement gifts. I could also see golf club memberships, books, and commemorative plaques. My Library gave our previous director a gift basket when he retired. Possibly the least expected retirement gift one could ever receive is a baby elephant. This is Inspector Ashwin Chopra’s retirement gift from his uncle on his last day with Mumbai’s police force in Vaseem Khan’s debut, The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra. As Chopra departs for his last day of work, he leaves to the sounds of an imbroglio between his wife and the self-appointed dictator of his apartment complex over the elephant.
On his way to the police station, Chopra is caught by a furious woman complaining about the lack of investigation into her son’s death the previous night. Chopra is all for diving into the case, even though it’s his last day. Everyone wants him to just leave it for his replacement. Besides, they tell him, it was clearly an accidental death anyway. The day after his last day, Chopra confronts a future in which he has nothing but time. He can’t stand it. Chopra doesn’t even make it 24 hours before pestering his former officers and calling in favors from his colleagues.
For a while, I thought the novel was going to leave me hanging about the elephant, dubbed Ganesha. Poor little Ganesha is depressed. No one can get him to eat. He lives in the apartment complex’s courtyard. Every now and then, children will stop by to dress him up like his namesake. Eventually, Chopra takes him to a vet. When the vet can’t find anything wrong with the elephant, Chopra starts bringing the elephant along on his investigations, for lack of anything better to do. Besides, he’s more than a little curious about the note from his uncle that came with Ganehsa. He is no ordinary elephant.
We don’t learn how Ganesha is special until later in the mystery. What I like about this book—apart from the little elephants that mark the chapter breaks—is the way Chopra rolls with his inheritance. He is a deeply good person. His way of dealing with things is to just deal with them. He takes care of as many people around him as possible. The only place he stumbles is with his wife, Poppy. He’s not always good on picking up on emotional cues as he is with physical evidence.
For a book that’s under 300 pages, The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra is absolutely packed with plot and character development and scenery. It was a joy to read.
I received a free copy of this ebook from Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review. It will be released 15 September 2015.