For centuries the Koh-i-Noor diamond has set man against man and king against king. Now part of the British Crown Jewels, the priceless gem is a prize that many have killed to possess. So when the Crown Jewels go on display in Mumbai, security is everyone’s principal concern. And yet, on the very day Inspector Chopra visits the exhibition, the diamond is stolen from under his nose. The heist was daring and seemingly impossible. The hunt is on for the culprits. But it soon becomes clear that only one man—and his elephant—can possibly crack this case…
What I Thought
Inspector Ashwin Chopra (Retd) a former member of the Mumbai policeman, is now one of my favourite characters. In this second installment of the Baby Ganesh series, we find Chopra settling into retirement as a private investigator, working out of an office in his new digs, a restaurant named after his wife, Poppy. This wonderful gem of a story fairly zips along at a motorised rickshaw pace, combining a number of threads that both delight and amused. And even if we think the arrival of both Queen Elizabeth and the Crown Jewels on a visit to Mumbai might seem impossible, we believe because Khan makes us believe.
Certainly I believe in Khan’s characters, who are all well drawn, including Chopra who is thoughtful, kind, intelligent, and a tad old-fashioned. He wistfully hankers for another time and is aware enough to realise how odd that makes him seem in the eyes of others. But it’s his integrity that stands out, Chopra lives in a world where bribery and corruption are the norm but he steadfastly refuses to give in, and let it consume him.
Whimsical, endearing, and upbeat, this mystery is told with a twinkle in the author’s eye. Chopra’s wry observations are engaging and humorous, offering up brief glimpses into life for millions in the bustling metropolis that is Mumbai. And while the story focuses on the theft of the Koh-i-Noor diamond, Chopra and his associate, Rangwalla, Baby Ganesh, and young Irfan—a street beggar turned waiter at Chopra’s restaurant—are seen chasing down leads on a number of cases.
I loved that we get to see Rangwalla and Chopra’s wife, Poppy, off on their own adventure, tracking down a stolen bust at the school where Poppy works. It’s these fun excursions elsewhere that add so much more to the depth and overall enjoyment of the read. As each character struggles to piece together and solve their own mysteries in these fun side-plots.
This is, at once, both a cozy mystery, and a lighthearted comic look at Indian life and culture. There is wit, drama, mystery and plenty of fun, with characters whose lives you become invested in, as this quirky, off-beat, mystery resolves itself to a very satisfying conclusion. And what’s not to love about a Cadbury chocolate loving baby elephant, named Ganesh?
Go on, you know you want to have a read!
The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the Crown