For many years we have become accustomed to warm and zany comedies contained within books and films set in France including Delicatessen, Chocolat, The Hundred Foot Journey and many more. In more recent times, India has come to share this mantle with stories that allow us to explore the complexities of one of the world’s most intriguing cultures. Some of the stories make a virtue out of poverty as in Slumdog Millionaire whereas others use comedy to highlight the clash of Anglo-Indian cultures as depicted in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
The city of Mumbai with its twenty million inhabitants provides a fascinating context for this story. Amid the seething populace citizens live by their wits with the poor often fighting for survival alongside the unseemly rich. To succeed individuals must be truly exceptional to stand apart from the milieu. Or corrupt. It is a place where common decency and humanity stand in stark contrast to greed and corruption. And where eccentricity and a passion for the unusual can be the tools of trade underpinning success. Such is the context for The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra.
The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra is an hilarious tale surrounding Inspector Chopra who is retiring after 30 years in the Police Force. The setting is contemporary Mumbai and the tone of the story is quickly established. On the day of his retirement, Inspector Chopra is given a baby elephant (Ganesha) by an uncle who declares the elephant has ‘special talents that will be understood in time.’ Ganesha is the Unexpected Inheritance and the focal point for the comedic plot that follows. Inspector Chopra lives with his wife Poppy in a Mumbai high level apartment, certainly no place for an elephant as the neighbours quickly make known.
Over many years Inspector Chopra established a reputation as an honest and highly capable detective amid a Police Force riddled with corruption. Only days prior to retirement Inspector Chopra learns of the death of a young boy but is quickly informed by those taking over the investigation that the death was accidental. Chopra is not convinced and resolves, in retirement, to find the murderer. This quest takes many twists and turns with Ganesha playing a vital supporting role. Along the journey we meet people from all walks of Mumbai society, including those who inhabit the dark underworld and appear to act with impunity.
The narrative style of The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra is direct and succinct. The author has imbued the character of Inspector Chopra with a fine sense of the ridiculous and the improbable along with eccentricities that create a most appealing individual. We empathise with his quest to see justice done. This is a most enjoyable read.
The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra is available on Amazon Kindle.
Published in 2015 by Mulholland Books, London