Book Review : The Bankster

Publisher Rupa Publications India
Publication Year 2012
ISBN-13 9788129120489
ISBN-10 8129120488
Language English
Binding Paperback
Number of Pages 364 Page

Source : Flipkart

WHY I READ THE BOOK

I have reviewed 5 books from Blogadda and this is the 6th in the Blogadda Book Reviews series. I got this copy through a tweet asking if readers wanted an instant copy of ‘The Bankster’ for review. And believe me it was instant! I got it within a week of applying.

I picked this book randomly as this was a genre I had not read from an Indian author. It differed from the books from Blogadda I read earlier – a drama (All and nothing), Chanakya’s chant (Political/Historical fiction), Mafia Queens (crime documentary), The Wednesday Soul (Comedy), You can sell (Self-help). This one was a fictional thriller written by an IIM alumnus. Also the name Ravi Subramaniam rang a bell, which turned out to be a mix-up with Ravi Venu.

One fine day, after Diwali, I read the book and believe me, I kept running back to finish it every now and then.

WHY YOU SHOULD READ THE BOOK

  1. You like CID and CSI alike.
  2. You are skeptical of Indian authors and want a book that challenges your brain.
  3. You want to read a book that when translated to movies would be worthy of a watch. (picture Angels and Demons)
  4. You are into Apple products 😛
  5. Because I say it is worth a read! *ducks n runs*

THE BOOK

At 364 pages, the Bankster makes a delightfully long and fast paced read. I would advise skipping the blurb on the back to make it more interesting while figuring out the mystery. Our generation has grown on the staple diet of shows like Lie to Me, Bones, Castle, the Mentalist which figure prominent cop/investigator duos. The book has one of the Indianized versions of them. There is a certain kind of believability in the story which is very essential to a very elaborate and high profile thriller.

As far as I know, the situations and scenes are original in context and provide a novelty to the ‘whodunnit’ angle. The book is far more than a murder mystery or a thriller. It makes one sit back and think of the dark intricasies of the wheelings and dealings that go on in the banking and political sector.

THE PLOT

The plot is story driven. A welcome deviation from the books I have read recently. There are 3 parallel tracks and the convergence is well depicted in the end. The story starts in Africa, the scenes very reminiscent of Blood Diamond and Casino Royale – still original in writing. The main chunk of the plot takes place in amchi Mumbai – with lots of stuff that every Mumbaite will enjoy and relate to. A parallel track runs in South India where a nuclear power project is being thought of. Money scam appears to be the main theme of the book when the reader suddenly finds out that it is more than just a Hawala scam.

At certain points, the story seems to switch tracks abruptly and start with one of the 3 parallel tracks. In that case I did what I always do – read the continuation chapter first 😛

THE CHARACTERS

There are many characters and each well etched in the whole story. One keeps flitting from a character to another trying to put him/her in the cross-hairs – even I did the same. And just when I thought I had the book figured out, there was a sharp twist. ( IIM people do have a devious brain, don’t they? Kidding :P) Mumbai police has been given its due credit and I loved the fact that the PSI in charge was a sincere young officer. The FBI people were true to their stereotype. There is one more international police squad in picture – again an intriguing read. The characters in the banking sector Vikram, Indrani, Raymond (I could almost picture this portly fellow), Harshita  and others could be found anywhere around you.  The characters from the nuclear power plant can be found in any agitation/movement be it the Lokpal, Narmada Dam or our very own nuclear power project coming up in Jaitapur. (On a side note, I hate the this track because I wanted to base my novel on the Jaitapur project. Anyhow, if I do write it – please note that I really had the idea in mind before I read The Bankster 😛 )

WHAT I LIKED

I liked the fact that there are cool gadgets (read iPads and iPhones) at play – that way I could flaunt my relevance to the smartphone industry. Again, I really appreciate the last twist which makes the book a very worthwhile read – because I had figured out rest of the plot almost in the middle of the book.

WHAT I DID NOT LIKE

The book could have been a little tightly edited and carefully proofread. I did not like the fact that Kaavya, the lady from the amateur investigator duo – did not have much to do and was reduced to a mere showpiece. On the whole, I did find all the female characters a bit slow in grasping the situation. Anyway, since I do not consider myself a feminist, I would like to appreciate the well written book and not focus on the need for gender equality.

IN A NUTSHELL

In a nutshell, pick up the book anytime during transit and enjoy a wonderful read. Coming from an Indian author utilizing everyday settings from Mumbai for a global thriller, this one deserves a read. Skip the Rowdy Rathores and Salman movies for once and try a desi thriller book instead!

Reviewer’s rating   3.5/5

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!

Book Review : Chanakya’s Chant

Hey guys, I am back after a long hiatus. Was caught up in office work.
All credit to Blogadda’s Book Review program which ensured that I post within a week of getting the book.

Why I read the book

I had first heard of Ashwin Sanghi in an article which quoted that the 26/11 Mumbai attacks were eerily similar to the description in Rozabal Line. Also, comparisons to Dan Brown drew my attention to Mr. Sanghi’s work, as I am a sucker for rational interpretation of religious symbolism and rituals. After Rozabal Line, Minissha Lamba’s tweet mentioning Chanakya’s Chant as a good read came along. I am always on the lookout for fast paced political thrillers and here was the one that fitted the bill to a perfect T. I picked it up at the first opportunity I got and battled through my jam packed office routine to finish it within time. (Chanakya niti did help me there 😉 )

Why you should read the book

The story catches the reader’s attention right from the prologue where old Pandit Gangasagar refuses to die before seeing his protegee ascend the ultimate throne in the democratic hierarchy of India.(Yep President as a head of the state is a misnomer) The narration oscillates between 2 eras drawing parallels with the tale of Chanakya in ancient Magadh and Pandit Gangasagar. The resemblance between both is uncanny and keeps the reader turning the pages till the end.

The story

The plot is mainly character driven, with the storyline highlighting events in their lives. A Brahmin called Gangasagar stumbles on an ancient scripture holding the secret to Chanakya’s power while learning wily business tricks from his mentor Agrawalji. Soon the mentee becomes the mentor as Gangasagar shifts his focus from business to politics. He ingeniously creates a party with the help of a local don and a slum-child – and manipulates them both like a master puppeteer,eventually changing the canvass of Indian politics as Chanakya did for independent and cohesive Bharat.

Characters

The character etching is so efficient that it almost seems as if Chanakya is reincarnated in the form of Gangasagar in the 20th century.He believes that even to do good through politics, one has to employ dirty methods. His strategy consists of bribing, intimidating, assassinating his opponents without letting on a whiff as to who the perpetrator is. Chandini does justice to a rags to riches heroine, the core of Chanakya’s mystical chant.She is a smug confident lady fully aware of her greater role in Indian politics when she is sent to study in a foreign university. The supporting characters also have parallels in both the tracks and are believably grey in their mindsets.

Writing style

The author’s writing style is short and crisp. Amazingly that does not compromise with the fluidity of the story – almost as if you are reading a film script. The anecdotal narration style (although some are common knowledge in Indian masses) makes the reader feel as if he is a disciple attending Chanakya’s classes at Takshila.Dialogues dominate the feel of the book. I am thinking of making a compilation of the awesome one-liners by Chanakya and Gangasagar 🙂

me likey……..me dislikey 🙂

What I liked is the seamless merging of the two eras, I still don’t know which one I found more riveting. The landscapes of Kanpur and Magadh are sketched so life-like replete with the aromas dominating the paan shops, halwai dukaans and zhopadpattis! What I did not like is the romaticisation of Chandini’s life – somehow we always expect famous politicos to have an explosive background story – and yes, she is true to that stereotype. I guess it was essential to the plot 🙂

In a nutshell!!!!!!!!!!

Overall verdict, please pick it up anytime – if you are looking for a fast paced thriller, an out of the box Indian fiction,better perspective on Chanakya. You can even pick it up as a study in better business strategy, what people call ‘kootneeti’ while the genius called it ‘Chanakyaneeti’….doesn’t have to be bad always! 😀 Happy reading folks!

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!