Many readers have asked me why I chose an elephant as the chief sidekick in my debut novel ‘The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra’, the first in the light-hearted Baby Ganesh detective agency crime series. Aside from the fact that I am passionate about these magnificent creatures, there are many perfectly valid reasons that elephants make sense in the role of sidekick to a detective.
I discussed these reasons in a blog piece for Sainsbury’s ebooks. Click here to read.
2 thoughts on “What makes an elephant a great sidekick for a crime novel?”
Dear Vaseem, I would love to read why elephants make great side-kicks however the link appears to be broken and I can’t seem to find your article anywhere on the web – please let me know where I can find it, thanking you kindly, Sally
sorry for the delay in replying. Ive been up in Edinburgh for work. Ive checked the link and it does appear to be working – it should go through to the blog piece on Sainsbury’s book site
here’s the link again:
and if that doesn’t work, then here’s the piece anyway!
What makes an elephant a great sidekick for a crime novel?
“By Jove, Holmes, how could you even think to replace me with an elephant? Why, it’s not even fully grown.” Such might be the response of the most famous of all sidekicks in crime fiction were he to be confronted with my novel The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra. The lead character, retired Mumbai police officer and private investigator Ashwin Chopra, inherits a baby elephant from his enigmatic uncle; an elephant that soon proves to be a more than useful ally as Chopra tackles a series of cases, the first of which is the death of a poor local boy.
Well might the grandfather of all sidekicks demand answers. He is not alone.
Many fans of the novel have asked me why I chose an elephant as Chopra’s sidekick. Aside from the fact that I am passionate about these incredible creatures, there are some very practical reasons why a baby elephant makes perfect sense as the latest incarnation of our beloved Dr Watson.
My novel is set in India and what could be more emblematic of India than an elephant? Elephants are also astonishingly intelligent, and possess excellent memories. Indeed, Holmes himself might make a case that young Ganesha would have proven a more able foil for his resounding skills of ratiocination than his somewhat dunderheaded partner. Elephants also share many traits with human beings – such as their lifespans, their emotional range, their familial structure. Human beings, in my experience, feel an immediate kinship with these magnificent creatures. Their size awes us. Their gentle natures inspire in us a sense of warmth and affection. An elephant is also one of the few creatures for which it is easy to entertain the notion of a strong and productive bond between man and beast. After all, elephants and humans have worked together in many arenas – industry, the circus, pageantry, transport, and war. It is not beyond reason that an elephant might partner with a private investigator. But could you imagine a rat in a similar role? Or a lizard? Or a goat?
When I think of all the great sidekicks that have graced crime fiction – from Poirot’s action-man Captain Hastings to DI Morse’s faithful Sergeant Lewis – I find myself concluding that there really isn’t anything strange about a baby elephant stepping into the shoes of these wonderful understudies. After all, the classic sidekick is loyal, observant, brave, tenacious and a devoted friend and follower of the mighty principal. The sidekick serves as counterpoint to the lead, but must not upstage him in the solving of the mystery. The sidekick is also there to bring the lead back should he stray off course. Baby elephant Ganesha more than fulfils these criteria, with the added bonus that he has a personality and attraction all of his own and a mysterious backstory to boot.
The question isn’t why I have a baby elephant as a sidekick – the question is how could I possibly not?