AT once exotic, beautiful and deeply flawed, Mumbai is a city that has long inspired artists and writers.

Upon arrival in the bustling Indian city in 1997, Newham-born author Vaseem Khan was met with a sight which went on to influence his hotly anticipated début series of detective novels.

“I came out from Bombay International Airport and I hopped in a taxi and it was stopped at the traffic lights,” remembers the keen cricketer, who went on to live in the city for ten years, working as a management consultant for a chain of eco-friendly hotels.

“You have got honking rickshaws and cars and goats and through this chaos I saw this amazing sight – a lumbering, grey elephant coming down the road. It was quite something.

Fascinated by the great beasts, Vaseem draws many parallels between elephants and humans, arguing they posses many of the necessary qualities required to be a detective - a great memory, self awareness and keen intelligence.

More than a decade later, the elephant plodded its way into Vaseem’s début novel - The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra - and into the hearts of readers across the UK, as the endearing character, Ganesha.

The first in a series of four books, the story opens on the day Inspector Chopra is due to retire from the Mumbai Police Department. But when a young boy drowns in suspicious circumstances his overwhelming sense of duty stops him from giving up his life as a detective.

Cue Ganesha - a sad, baby Indian elephant - left to Chopra by his Uncle Bansi, who becomes his sidekick in investigating the case of the boy’s death.

“I would describe Mumbai as an assault on the senses,” explains the 41-year-old, who will talk about his books at Christ Church in Rickmansworth this week.

“I’m sure other people have said that, but it literally is. It is loud, it is smelly, it is exuberant – everything seems exotic.

“But when you spend a long time there you start to look a bit deeper into the fabric of society and you see something that is perhaps not so exciting.”

Born in 1973 to parents who had emigrated from Pakistan, Vaseem says he experienced first-hand the effects of globalisation in India and recalls visiting a slum where he witnessed the appalling living conditions of India’s poorest people.

“India is a clash between old and new and I think it remains to see how that balances out,” he reflects. “Even modern people in India are wedded to the old history.”

During his ten-year stay in the city, Vaseem travelled around the sub continent and is looking forward to taking his readers on a journey - with Inspector Chopra and Ganesha - through India in the forthcoming trio of novels.

The next instalment, titled The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the Crown, sees the dynamic duo hunt the thieves responsible for stealing the priceless Koh-i-Noor diamond. Vaseem has finished writing the tale which is due out in the spring, and is already on with the next book where the team investigate the kidnapping of a famous Bollywood star.

When I call Vaseem for our interview, he’s sitting on a bench in Tavistock Square - a stone’s throw from University College London’s Department of Security and Crime Science, where he began work after moving home from Mumbai in 2006.

“I have found the two seamlessly fit together in writing crime novels and working for UCL’s Department of Security and Crime Science,” reflects the writer.

Perhaps it’s no mystery then that he chose to pen crime fiction, drawing on the expertise of his UCL colleagues for research.

Writing has been a long-held passion for Vaseem, who fuelled his love of books at a young age with trips to the local library with his late mother.

“She made the time to go with me. I can never thank her enough,” he muses.

But, in accordance with his parents’ wishes, he studied for a degree in accounting and finance at the London School of Economics and headed off to India after graduating.

It is only now he is reaping the rewards of his decades-long writing hobby, which he enjoys whenever - and wherever - he can, be it on the sidelines at the cricket pitch, or at home in Newham. However, it was while he was at work that Vaseem found out he had secured a four-book deal from publishers Mulholland Books.

“Honestly, I had to sit down,” he laughs. “How often do people get to fulfil a lifetime’s dream? I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity.”

What does he hope for in the future? “I would like to write novels that are based in the East End of London. I think there is so much colour here.”

l An Evening with Vaseem Khan, The Junction, Christ Church, The Common, Chorleywood, Thursday, September 10, 7pm. Details: 01923 283566,