Murder At The Grand Raj Palace by Vaseem Khan
My own copy
In the enchanting new Baby Ganesh Agency novel, Inspector Chopra and his elephant sidekick investigate a murder at Mumbai’s grandest hotel.
For a century the iconic Grand Raj Palace Hotel has welcomed the world’s elite. From film stars to foreign dignitaries, anyone who is anyone stays at the Grand Raj.
The last thing the venerable old hotel needs is a murder…
When American billionaire Hollis Burbank is found dead – the day after buying India’s most expensive painting – the authorities are keen to label it a suicide. But the man in charge of the investigation is not so sure. Chopra is called in – and discovers a hotel full of people with a reason to want Burbank dead.
Accompanied by his sidekick, baby elephant Ganesha, Chopra navigates his way through the palatial building, a journey that leads him steadily to a killer, and into the heart of darkness . . .
‘It was said that the Grand Raj Palace owed its existence to an insult’
The novel opens with the history of the Grand Raj Palace. A history that is rotted in the British colonialism. The hotel was then and is now, revered as a symbol of India’s ambition and self-worth. I love how the author has cleverly weaved historical details into the story and the novel itself is scattered with them.
It really adds to the beauty of what makes this series to great!
What also makes this series so great is the brilliant characterisation of Chopra and Poppy. They compliment each other perfectly and in this particular case poppy gets a mystery of her own to solve.
Their relationship and the way it flows from the page, makes for brilliant reading. With them both playing the role of ‘investigator’ in this novel, we the reader are in for a double treat!
‘The thought of confronting his wife when her temper was up was as attractive to him as placing his head into the mouth of a ravenous tiger’
Chopra is summoned to the hotel by a former police colleague Rohan Tripathi. After the death of American billionaire and hotel client Hollis Burbank. It is a case that will lead Chopra into the murky side of the side industry. Burbank was found with a knife in his chest in his hotel room. On the wall written in blood are the words ‘I am sorry’.
But what is Burbank sorry for? What is his motive for suicide?
Irfan, Chopra and Poppy’s adopted son and previous street urchin, makes a brief appearance in the novel. He is still tainted by his previous life and at 10yrs old has experienced far too much for a child. We hear Poppy’s thoughts on parenting and they every much echo my own.
‘The true definition of parenthood was the ability to love, to care, to put the welfare of another before one’s own’
Whilst Chopra persists to look into hotel security and deal with Lisa Taylor of the art auction house. Poppy determined not to be forgotten on her 25th wedding anniversary, makes herself and Irfan guests of the hotel. Where she stumbles upon a mysterious case. The case of the missing bride.
‘Everything is illusion,
and no one is who we believe they are’ – Chopra
It would appear that Burbank’s secrets lead deeper into India’s past and deeper within the ruthless and competitive art world.
But can Chopra solve the case?
There is a brilliant opening to a chapter on page 222. Where the author details the colonial history and India’s railway system. It is some of the finest writing, I even took a photo of it on my phone to save. I think that has been the niche of this particular novel, Vaseem Khan’s ability to merge the past and the present and write a brilliant story.
There is also a devious monkey, which adds a comedy element into the plot!
I found myself giggling whilst poor Ganesh shoulders the blame.
My favourite part of the novel is Poppy’s development as a main character. There is a particular scene where Poppy sticks up for herself and Irfan and it just reminded me that Poppy can hold her own. Poppy is a modern woman and the mystery she solves suits her character perfectly.
Perfect escapism and a cracking cosy crime mystery! 5* Genius!