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The Strange Disappearance of a Bollywood…

The Strange Disappearance of a Bollywood Star

by Vaseem Khan

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584311,195 (3.74)1
Mumbai is a city that thrives on extravagant spectacles and larger-than-life characters.But as Chopra is about to discover, even in the city of dreams, there is no guarantee of a happy ending.Rising star and incorrigible playboy Vikram Verma has disappeared, leaving his latest film in jeopardy. Hired by Verma's formidable mother to find him, Inspector Chopra and his sidekick, baby elephant Ganesha, embark on a journey deep into the world's most flamboyant movie industry.As they uncover feuding stars, failed investments and death threats, it seems that many people have a motive for wanting Verma out of the picture.And yet, as Chopra has long suspected, in Bollywood the truth is often stranger than fiction...… (more)



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A very standard cozy mystery, that only kept my interest because of the Indian culture. I found the "baby elephant" Ganesh to be endearing but the fact that his the detective's sidekick stretched my imagination a little too far. ( )
  Bodagirl | Nov 11, 2018 |
A breezy mystery set in the glittering world of Mumbai film industry.

For a complete review please click on the link below:


( )
  ashkrishwrites | Aug 29, 2018 |
The more Vaseem Khan's Baby Ganesh Agency mystery series develops, the more assured, complex, and enjoyable it becomes. The three books that have been published so far are doing a wonderful job filling the gap left by Tarquin Hall's excellent Vish Puri series. Khan has even begun featuring Indian cuisine via Chopra's restaurant, although I don't feel strong enough to try even the tiniest nibble of one of the chef's "Rocket Fuel pickles."

The Strange Disappearance of a Bollywood Star showcases culture, humor, strong characters, a hair-raising escape, and two separate investigations. While Chopra looks for the missing movie star, his associate Rangwalla is working on a case for a group of eunuchs. This investigation has a lot to teach readers (and Rangwalla) about this group of people in Indian society and how they're treated. It is a strong investigation in its own right.

Chopra's case is complex and sometimes frightening, and it's amazing how a baby elephant can actually have a part to play in all the action and not make the book seem ridiculous-- but Khan pulls it off with panache. He also shows us a bit of the history of Bollywood-- a film industry many times larger than the American Hollywood-- and fascinating tidbits like the relationship Indian families have with their jewelers.

Good story, good setting, good food, and the type of characters that bind all the pieces together. Rangwalla has a large part in the book, and we also see more of the relationship between Chopra and his wife Poppy. One of the things I enjoy most about these books is Khan's uncanny ability to describe a character in one (often hilarious) line. The film legend Bijli Verma is "a vision of immaculate fury in a sari," and Chopra's mother-in-law mans the restaurant's cash register "as though it were a gun turret."

I think I had a smile on my face the entire time I was reading The Strange Disappearance of a Bollywood Star. Give it a try. I'll bet you will, too. ( )
  cathyskye | Aug 22, 2017 |
The Strange Disappearance of a Bollywood Star by Vaseem Kahn is a 2017 Redhook/ Mullholland Books publication.

Zany and thought provoking-

Inspector Chopra and his sidekick, baby elephant Ganesha, find themselves embroiled in the underbelly of the Bollywood film industry when the hottest heartthrob Vikram Verma mysteriously disappears. His famous mother is desperate to locate her son, but instead of going to the police, she hires Chopra.

While Chopra is navigating his way through his investigation, Chopra’s assistant, Rangwalla is investigating a case where eunuchs housed in a slum, overseen by the Queen of Mysore, are being taken to a mansion to engage in various avenues of performance arts over the weekend, then brought back home. Something smells fishy and the Queen wants to find out what is really going on.

The title of this book and that eye-popping cover caught my attention, and so on a whim, I checked it out of the library. I did not notice, until after I had finished the book, that is was the third book in a series. Oh well- it reads fine as a stand- alone and I now have a little incentive to check out the first two books of these series.

I really enjoyed the cultural details in this novel, the vibrant descriptions of Mumbai, and the charming baby elephant, Ganesha.

But, despite the obvious cultural differences, the movie industry, whether it is Hollywood or Bollywood, is still just smoke and mirrors, exactly like you’ve always heard. But, despite being a seasoned police officer and private detective, Chopra still experiences some disillusionment as he searches for Vicky.

By stark contrast, the reader is taken to the seamier side, which is a different and very sobering reality check for the reader. Rangwalla’s case is heartbreaking and tragic, and while I loved the redemptive aspects, and the life lessons applied to Chopra’s case, this one made a larger impact on me.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel, which served as a nice escape into another culture, and the mild humor, plus, its use of terms and names I don’t see or hear every day provided me with a chance to learn new words and even prompted me to do a few Google searches and to add a Bollywood film to my Netflix queue, just out of curiosity. So, it was also a learning experience.

I also liked how the author added a moral to the story, which provided the characters a chance to develop and grow. While that may seem a tad cliché, it still worked as a cautionary tale.

I would be remiss if I didn’t give Ganesha at least an honorable mention. The elephant is an unusual pet to adopt, but he was hilarious and added much charm to the story.

The two mysteries included are not violently graphic, but there is an emotional tug from time to time. The language is mild as well, making this a novel that leans a little in the ‘cozy’ direction and is one nearly any mystery lover could get into and enjoy. So, on occasion, following one of my whims pays off!

I will definitely check out the first two books in the series, which I hope will keep me contented until the fourth book is released. ( )
  gpangel | Aug 11, 2017 |
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To my friends in India who welcomed me, all those years ago, with such warmth, friendship and generosity, that when i left a decade later it was with enough wonderful memories to write a thousand splendid stories.
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On a sultry March evening, in the great hive-city of Mumbai, Inspector Ashwin Chopra (Retd) was once again discovering the futility of discourse with his fellow countrymen.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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