“Murder at the Grand Raj Palace” by Vaseem Khan

This is the fourth book in the “Baby Ganesh Agency” series, and probably the best one so far, mainly because of the personalities that fill the book to the bursting point.

Khan’s characters are based on the comedic inspiration that if you push a stereotype hard enough it will suddenly blossom into humorous originality. Chopra’s sometimes too-understanding wife, Poppy, gets to play a larger role than usual, solving a mystery of her own, a royal bride gone AWOL the day before her wedding. Big Mother, the head of the missing girl’s clan, leads the parade of supporting characters, with Ganesham, the hotel’s head butler, trotting along behind in his dignified, competent way. And of course Ganesh, the adorable baby elephant with the magical abilities, ably supported by Irfan, the former street urchin. An all-star cast, supporting…

Ashwin Chopra, the rock-solid foundation of the series: a main character whose unwavering commitment to the truth puts him in constant, unresolvable conflict with the hyperbole, the falseness and the corruption of the society he loves. His ability to function at all under these circumstances, let alone to succeed, makes him a hero. His compassion for his fellow humans makes him superb.

The other draw of this book is the writing. Only in a Ganesh Agency book could the flunky of a movie-star monkey insult a detective and glare at him “over insolent sunglasses.”

This is a creative, humourous, well-written story with a marvelous cultural setting and wonderful characters. Highly recommended for everyone.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

 

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