The First Two Pages: “Can’t Buy Me Love” by Vaseem Khan

In April 2015, B.K. Stevens debuted the blog series “The First Two Pages,” hosting craft essays by short story writers and novelists analyzing the openings of their own work. The series continued until just after her death in August 2017, and the full archive of those essays can be found at Bonnie’s website. In November 2017, the blog series relocated to my website, and the archive of this second stage of the series can be found here.

This week continues the First Two Pages series with contributors to the new anthology Happiness Is a Warm Gun: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of the Beatles, edited by Josh Pachter and released earlier this month by Down & Out Books. So far, we’ve had essays by Kate Ellis on the title story in the collection and by collaborators Dru Ann Love and Kristopher Zgorski on their debut short story, “Ticket to Ride.” This week brings another author, Vaseem Khan, writing about his story “Can’t Buy Me Love,” and it’s a great honor to host him here. Vaseem is the author of two crime series set India: the Baby Ganesh Agency series set in modern Mumbai, and the Malabar House historical crime novels set in 1950s Bombay. Among his many honors, Vaseem won the Crime Writers Association Historical Dagger for his novel, and just this year, he was named chair of the CWA—the first non-white Chair in the organization’s 70-year history. As he explains in his essay below, Vaseem has also worked for the past seventeen years at University College London’s Department of Security and Crime Science—and in his free time (what free time??), he and Abir Mukherjee also host the Red Hot Chilli Writers podcast series. I actually first met Vaseem in person earlier this year at Malice Domestic, where he and Abir were International Guests of Honor, and I was thrilled to be one of the guests on a podcast they recorded there, along with Catriona Macpherson and Jeff Cohen ; you can find that specific episode on Spotify here. And do check out Vaseem’s website generally for more information about him and his work.

In addition to Kate, Dru Ann, Kristopher, and Vaseem, Happiness Is a Warm Gun features stories by Michael Bracken, Paul Charles, John Copenhaver, David Dean, Martin Edwards, John M. Floyd, Robert Lopresti, Tom Mead, Christine Poulson, Marilyn Todd, and Joseph S. Walker—and by the First Two Pages essayist we’ll host next week too: Anjili Babbar. Stay tuned!

Please use the arrows and controls at the bottom of the embedded PDF to navigate through the essay. You can also download the essay to read off-line.