Thursday, August 08, 2019

Bad Day at the Vulture Club by Vaseem Khan

First Line: Perched on a rocky outcrop thrusting dramatically into the Arabian Sea halfway up the city's western flank, the Samundra Mahal-- the "palace by the sea"-- seemed to Inspector Ashwin Chopra (Retd) to encapsulate everything he had come to associate with the Parsees of Mumbai.

When prominent businessman Cyrus Zorabian is murdered on holy ground and his body dumped inside a Tower of Silence where the Parsee dead are consumed by vultures, his daughter is unconvinced that his death was a random killing. Enlisting the experience of retired police inspector Ashwin Chopra, she insists on knowing the truth.

The Parsees are among the oldest, most secretive, and most influential communities in Mumbai, India, and Chopra feels uneasy at entering this world of power and privilege, but he's soon plagued with doubts about the case, which is going to take him deep into the marriage of wealth and corruption that so often lies at the heart of his beloved city.

After the slapstick comedy of the last Baby Ganesh Agency mystery, Murder at the Grand Raj Palace, this latest book has a much more serious tone and is the best and tightest constructed mystery so far in the series. Although the tone is more serious, there are still scenes that gave me fits of the giggles, so those of you who prefer light-hearted mysteries, take note. I think one of my favorite chuckles was Khan's homage to Edgar Allan Poe with an injured vulture glaring at people from atop Chopra's bookcase.

The mystery in Bad Day at the Vulture Club kept me guessing, and Chopra, with all his years of police work, is an excellent investigator-- even if his baby elephant sidekick does get into mischief occasionally. In fact, Chopra has such a good reputation with many in the Mumbai police force that his contacts and goodwill there stand him in good stead.

One of the things I enjoy most about this series is the way the character of Chopra's wife, Poppy, has grown. Chopra has a one-track mind and focuses on his investigations while Poppy adds her social issues and causes to the mix. This makes Poppy a very important part of the series because what she's involved in really give readers a true feel for Mumbai-- armchair travel at its best. She and her mother are also gifted with some of Khan's wonderful sense of humor.

After reading Sujata Massey's two Perveen Mistry historical mysteries and now Bad Day at the Vulture Club, I feel that I'm getting to know the Parsees, a group that continues to play such an important part in Mumbai's past, present, and future. In addition, my appreciation of vultures has grown (they may be ugly but they are an important part of life on our planet), and my learning about the Poo2Loo movement (pun intended) has enriched my knowledge of one of the most fascinating countries in the world.

Yes, I highly recommend Vaseem Khan's Baby Ganesh Agency mysteries. Read them and you'll enjoy, learn, and laugh. It doesn't get much better than that.

Bad Day at the Vulture Club by Vaseem Khan
eISBN: 9781473685390
Mulholland Books © 2019
eBook, 384 pages

Private Investigator, #5 Baby Ganesh Agency mystery
Rating: B+
Source: Net Galley


  1. Oh, I do like this series, Cathy. I enjoy the blend of wit and a serious plot. I also, of course, really like the look at India that it offers. Glad you enjoyed this one.

    1. I may bemoan my lack of travel from time to time, but series like these really help me feel a part of the world.

  2. I just read the short tale about the Monsoon Express! Looking forward to reading this too.

  3. OK, I'm in. Read book one and the two by Massey about the Parsees. Then also read more online. Fascinating.

    humor is always good.

    1. Just look at how much we're learning about the Parsees just from mysteries alone.

  4. Yes. I always learn from mysteries, google information about cities, countries and I look at maps. I did that with Massey's second book, trying to find the area of India she was writing about.
    And even with Scotland, I learn more. Read Val McDermid's A Darker Domain, saw photos of the fantastic Firth of Forth with ancient caves on its north shore. And one can go on a virtual tour of the caves and etchings on the walls, and about the Pict people who lived in them thousands of years ago.

    A friend who reads mysteries says one learns something from every book.


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