Vaseem Khan Biography & Facts
Vaseem Khan (born 1973) is a British writer, author of the Baby Ganesh Detective Agency novels – a series of crime novels set in India – featuring retired Mumbai police Inspector Ashwin Chopra and his sidekick, a baby elephant named Ganesha. Vaseem had won the Shamus Award and the Eastern Eye's Arts Culture & Theatre Awards for Literature.
Khan was born in the London Borough of Newham, studied at the Coopers' Company and Coborn School in Upminster, Havering, did A-Levels at Newham College, before studying Accounting and Finance at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He subsequently spent a decade on the subcontinent working as a management consultant to an Indian hotel group building environmentally-friendly hotels around the country, called ECOTELS. The flagship hotel is called The Orchid, An Ecotel and is located in Mumbai. He returned to the UK in 2006 and has since worked at University College London for the Department of Security and Crime Science. The department attempts to apply science and engineering to preventing, reducing and better detecting crime. It is one of the highest ranked departments in the country in its field.
The decade that Khan spent in India inspired him to write The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra, which was taken up by literary agents A.M. Heath in 2014. Khan was subsequently offered a four-book contract by Mullholland Books, an imprint of publishers Hodder & Stoughton for the first books in this series, referred to as the Baby Ganesh Detective Agency series.
In January 2016, The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra was selected for the Waterstones Book Club, and later named a Waterstones Paperback of the Year. It was also named as a Daily Telegraph Pick of the Week (in conjunction with WHSmith), an Amazon Best Debut, and was a top 10 best-seller in The Times Saturday review.
Khan wrote for over twenty years before he was published, completing half-a-dozen unpublished novels and collecting numerous rejection slips. He uses his own example to offer advice to young writers who he recommends "write, write and then, when you're sick of it, write some more."
The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra is the first novel in the Baby Ganesh Detective Agency series, in which newly retired Inspector Chopra investigates the suspicious drowning of a poor local boy, a case no one seems to want solved. At the same time he comes to grips with the surreal situation of being sent a baby elephant by his long-lost uncle. Published in August 2015, it went on to become a Times best-seller. Vaseem has stated that his objective with this series was to take readers to the heart of modern India to give them an idea of what India "looks like, feels like, sounds like, smells like, even tastes like".The second novel in the series is entitled The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the Crown. The plot of the novel revolves around the theft of the world's most famous diamond – the Koh-i-Noor, originally mined in India before being appropriated by the British and handed to Queen Victoria during the Raj. In the novel the Crown Jewels are brought to India for a special exhibition. A daring robbery sees the Koh-i-Noor stolen and Chopra and Ganesha called in to try and recover the great diamond.
In the third contracted novel in the series The Strange Disappearance of a Bollywood Star Chopra and Ganesha are on the trail of a kidnapped Indian film actor, and in the fourth Murder at the Grand Raj Palace they tackle the murder of an American billionaire at India's most iconic hotel. The fifth in the series, Bad Day at the Vulture Club, sees Chopra investigating the death of a wealthy man from the Parsee community. The Parsees do not bury or cremate their dead. They leave them out in stone structures called Towers of Silence for vultures to consume in a process called excarnation.
On his decision to include an elephant as Chopra's sidekick Vaseem has said: "I thought it would be different and fun to cast an elephant in a crime-fighting role. On a purely practical level elephants possess all the qualities of the best detectives. They're highly intelligent, and have those amazing memories – that's not a myth. They also have a wide range of emotions, which is important to me as a writer because my novel isn't just about the crimes but about the dynamic between Inspector Chopra, this rigid, middle-aged policeman, this baby elephant who he is forced to adopt, and his irrepressible wife, Poppy."
In 2020, Midnight at Malabar House was published, introducing India’s first female police detective, Persis Wadia. The story is set in Bombay, 1950. As India stands on the eve of becoming a republic, Persis is tasked to investigate the murder of senior British diplomat Sir James Herriot.
Baby Ganesh Detective Agency novels
2015: The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra
2016: The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the Crown
2017: The Strange Disappearance of a Bollywood Star
2018: Murder at the Grand Raj Palace
2019: Bad Day at the Vulture ClubBaby Ganesh Detective Agency novellas
2018: Inspector Chopra & the Million Dollar Motor Car
2019: Last Victim of the Monsoon ExpressMalabar House series
2020: Midnight at Malabar HouseReferences
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