It’s going to be impossible to talk about THE UNEXPECTED INHERITANCE OF INSPECTOR CHOPRA without comparing the style of writing with Alexander McCall-Smith and the central character with Poirot, but I’d also throw in Inspector Singh from Shamini Flint’s excellent Inspector Singh Investigates series. They are all written with a light touch, with affection for their location without pretending that everything’s perfect, and with a slightly eccentric, deeply committed to their own particular methodology of crime investigation (which is more cerebral than athletic) central protagonist.
Interestingly, these investigators are increasingly “of a certain age”, retirement and/or the freedom of age providing them with full rein to forge their own way, none more than Inspector Ashwin Chopra who retires from his full-time Police Position due to ill-health and promptly takes to the role of Private Investigator, starting with a case unlikely to be pursued by his colleagues that occurs on his last full day of work.
About the same time as he inherits a baby elephant. Now I will admit that for the longest time in this book I was increasingly concerned about the treatment and fate of what is obviously an unhappy and ill little elephant. Distracted to the point where I almost threw in the towel on the book at one point.
The book does centre mostly around Chopra and his efforts to discover the truth behind the drowning of a young boy initially written off as not requiring police attention. His pursuit of the truth, and belief that there’s something not right about the death, and about the police force he left is characterised by his quiet determination and dogged persistence. Whilst he’s sticking with this task, his homelife is having it’s own ructions and his wife’s difficulties dealing with their ongoing childlessness, and his mother-in-law’s residence in his home create a bit of interest aside from a straight investigation story.
Nearly too late for my overall comfort, however, Chopra does get his act together with regard to that elephant and I could relax and enjoy the story for what it is. Charming, and even comical at points, THE UNEXPECTED INHERITANCE OF INSPECTOR CHOPRA turns out to be the start of a very big new adventure for Ashwin Chopra, his wife and that lovely little elephant.