VASEEM KHAN is the author of two award-winning crime series set in India, the ‘Baby Ganesh Agency’ series, and the ‘Malabar House’ historical crime novels. His debut introduced Inspector Chopra of the Mumbai police and his sidekick, a one-year-old baby elephant.
CRAIG SISTERSON caught up with the author who recently co-edited the book of short crime stories, The Perfect Crime.
What sparked The Perfect Crime anthology?
Publishing is currently making a concerted effort to dissolve the barriers that have made it difficult for ‘non-traditional’ voices to make their way into print. I was one of the first of the new wave of such writers. The Perfect Crime is packed with wonderful, varied stories set in locations around the world, written by genre legends and up-and-comers, showcasing all its murderous variety.
Do you think crime writing is becoming (belatedly and long overdue) more diverse?
Funnily enough, criminals are the most inclusive members of our society. They don’t seem to discriminate – they’re happy to murder, blackmail, and steal from people of all creeds and colours! But over the past century you’d think crime only happened to – and was only committed and solved by – white people, usually middle-class ones at dinner parties. Don’t get me wrong: I love Agatha Christie, Michael Connelly or David Baldacci. But the pleasure of reading includes journeying to new settings, hearing new voices, and falling in love with characters outside of our frames of reference.
What were the best thing about being co-editor of this anthology?
Being able to work with legends such as Walter Mosely – that was simultaneously the best part and the most challenging. It’s like being invited to ‘edit’ Al Pacino’s latest performance.
What makes a great crime short story?
Short stories are the tequila shots of fiction. A good short story compresses the basic story arc of a novel into a few thousand words. The best ones get straight into the action, create intrigue, introduce characters, offer a puzzle, and then solve it – all at warp speed. A satisfying revelation, or a gut punch at the denouement is a must!
What are you working on next?
I’m editing the third in my ‘Malabar House’ series, The Lost Man of Bombay. Frankly, I’d buy it just for the amazing cobra on the cover! In this one, a white man is found frozen to death in a cave in the Himalayan foothills. His face is crushed, making his identity a complete mystery. When the case lands on Persis’ desk, she discovers a notebook on the body holding a series of intriguing clues. Then more murders occur in Bombay … of Europeans … Could there be a serial killer loose in the city?
ABOUT THE EDITOR
Vaseem Khan is the author of two award-winning crime series set in India, the Baby Ganesh Agency series set in modern Mumbai, and the Malabar House historical crime novels set in 1950s Bombay.
His first book, The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra, was selected by the Sunday Times as one of the 40 best crime novels published 2015-2020, and is translated into 17 languages. The second in the series won the Shamus Award in the US. In 2018, he was awarded the Eastern Eye Arts, Culture and Theatre Award for Literature.
In 2021, Midnight at Malabar House won the Crime Writers Association Historical Dagger, the world’s premier award for historical crime fiction. When he isn’t writing, he works at the Department of Security and Crime Science at University College London. Vaseem was born in England, but spent a decade working in India. Vaseem also co-hosts the popular crime fiction podcast, The Red Hot Chilli Writers.