The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the Crown by Vaseem Khan

book jacket elephant and crown graphic for Indian detective mystery fiction story
The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the Crown by Vaseem Khan (2016)

What a wonderful mystery with fun and interesting characters full of personality — including the baby elephant, Ganesha.

Good read, though I did get a little impatient with one too many subplots. This is not the first book in the series. Maybe the author tidied previous plot twists.

Check the Goodreads link to see which is the first if you want to start at the beginning of the series.

I am pleased that there are more books in the series because this is a world I want to visit again. However, I only want to be an armchair visitor, because the small depictions of the actual reality are too distressing for me. Here in the USA we are more fortunate than many, even though fewer and fewer of us can say that. But in too many places in the world, there are too many people starving. Cruel treatment of animals exists everywhere too, to my sorrow.

In this book, the intelligence of this most unusual detective sidekick, the baby elephant, Ganesha, proves a delight. Alas, it also makes me sad for the cruelty being done to  elephants wherever they are left for however long they manage to survive.

The author does a good job of touching on the serious problems of Mumbai, with the 20 million inhabitants. He does not go off on a polemic on the unfairness of life though. The main characters do what they can to provide a measure of justice in the world.

This book has a theme of inequitable forces of justice. In some case, optimism for basic human decency provides a second chance to some young boys’ bad behavior. Like in real life, too many adults’ bad behavior does not get punished due to money or power.

I found the very bad behavior of the policeman, Rao, particularly troubling. We have problems with corruption and abuse of power with our police here. Hopefully, no longer any beatings of arrested people though.

The commentary at the ending was particularly eloquent about how people often do not value the truly valuable — like love. Instead too many obsess about things like diamonds that only have the value people attribute to such things. Money for rarity and uniqueness and a possession to hold rather than the life of a boy or a baby elephant. DO NOT WORRY, Ganesha escapes bad intentions, but not without scars of both emotional and physical trauma.

I really enjoy the chance  to read “cozy” sorts of mysteries set in places other than English villages and small towns in America.

book jacket graphic of Thailand hotel

book jacket brightly colored graphics of a hotel and a little carThe end of the book makes a suggestion for another author, David Casarett, Murder at the House of Rooster Happiness: An Ethical Chiang Mai Detective Agency Novel. I look forward to reading it. It is the first of a planned series, and there is a second book out as well: The Missing Guests of the Magic Grove Hotel.

Here is the blurb for The Murder at the House of Rooster Happiness:

A fascinating mystery set in Thailand, in the vein of Alexander McCall Smith, where a nurse ethicist turns detective.

book jacket of scene in Botswana, Africa fiction mysteryAlexander McCall Smith is well known for a number of detective series, but my favorite is set in Botswana. The first book of that series is The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. The series referenced above as “in the vein of” refers to his Isabel Dalhousie series.





I did not like the failure for literary comeuppance for the  boy who hurt Ganesha with firecrackers. Then too, his father must have subsequently caused the elephant-kidnapping, but suffers no consequences for the cruelty.

The inspector’s wife, Poppy, continually claims that children make [innocent] mistakes. The second chance she provides for her schoolboys may be meant to imply that the firecracker kid would also grow out of his “childish” mistakes. Or maybe the author felt that the guaranteed protection that the animal killers would not bother him again was enough.

I prefer my escapist fiction to provide the justice not available in real life. At least one person deserving death got it though.

I do not think there are innocent ”children” who would harm an animal in any way. Such behavior exhibits a defective human being. That said, no I have not been able to manage to become a vegan though I keep trying.

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