Book Review: The Bankster by Ravi Subramanian
Having read all of Ravi Subramanian’s financial crime thrillers, both as a reader and a reviewer he remains one of my favourite Indian writers. So I was waiting eagerly for ‘The Bankster’ and the title name itself was quiet catchy. As soon as it hit the stores, I caught hold of a copy. Did the bankster manage to live up to my expectations? Here is my performance appraisal of Ravi Subramanian’s latest thriller. Read on.
If you have read all his four books, you might find it getting bit monotonous and bit predictive in certain areas but he nevertheless has a knack to deftly navigate into the murky waters of banking world clouded by scams and fuelled by ambitions, greed and power struggle. Being a banker himself, helps Ravi and thus If God was a Banker, Devil in PinStripes and Incredible Banker went on to be a best seller. While in the first two books, Ravi confined himself to the push and pulls within the Banking world, in Incredible Banker he came out of the banking closet and touched upon the terror funding through misuse of banking system. While reading Incredible Banker, I felt the author was bit apprehensive and it reflected in the writing style probably because Ravi was delving into broader areas of crime involving Naxalism. In The Bankster there is more maturity and confidence in handling a bigger stage of global conspiracy and crime.
His latest novel, The Bankster still has his banking DNA intact but it also marks a more articulate waddling into serious crime thriller by the author. He connects three dots – different characters and events and converge them into a nail-biting saga that is worth all the time you pour into the book.
So the bank in picture is the familiar Greater Boston Global Bank (GB2), which Ravi fictionalized in his previous book Incredible Banker. So if you have read the IB, you would be familiar with Karan Panjabi, the banker turned financial journalist who also plays the key role in this book too. The plot begins in the African country of Angola and with Joseph Bragnanza, a CIA covert agent involved in blood diamonds and arms dealing. From there it switches to a small town in Kerala, Devikullam and a 75-year-old man fighting the government in Gandhian way for clarity in the nuclear program being commissioned in his area and then we have our GB2 where the banking rigour, manipulations and power struggle brings out the various shades of the bankers. The storyline wades us alternatively through the three dots spanning continents, various characters and finally how all the streams converges into a murkier plot that also sniffs out three banker’s life during the course.
What could be the connecting point of an international CIA agent and events happening in Kerala and the tragic deaths of Greater Boston Global bank employees? There is a global conspiracy to undermine the nation’s growth and how does it get muddier in cognisance with certain bankers? How the financial crime gets unravelled and does it shake the foundation of the multinational bank? It’s for you to read and trust me Ravi keeps you glued to the pages till the end and makes a compelling read on one go.
The Bankster for me is a more accomplished work of the author so far wherein he exudes more confidence and control over the plot and the course of it. Do grab a copy if you are a fan of crime thrillers, The Bankster is sure to cast his tight grip on you.
Book review: Just Married, Please Excuse by Yashodhara Lal
“Opposites Attract – Trouble” – the tagline of the book “Just Married, Please Excuse” by Yashodhara Lal is tantalizing enough for anyone to pick the book and at least browse through it! I being an impulsive reader generally go by the title, followed by the cover page and last would be the story inside the book. When the book arrived at home for review, I was skeptical though; not because I didn’t like the title but I could not hold it amongst other books and flip it over and over again before deciding whether to pick it or not. However, the first look of the book itself was motivating enough for me to start reading it. Hmm.. I guess now, I should actually start writing about the book rather than giving blow-by-blow account of how I read it.
The book is all about marriage, literally speaking! Okay, let me correct myself, it is about love marriage which is arranged with the consent of the families. So we have our own “typical Dilli Wali” Yashodhara (Y) being married to Vijay (V) who is from good old school of thought, though not so much old-fashioned because he does pop a question to her on marriage and he does believe in love marriages. A Punjabi girl getting married into a non-punjabi family itself is a challenge; however, all said and done, they get married and settle into Bangalore later moving to Mumbai. They have some good people like Zareena (the over friendly maid – by the way there is no denying here that we literally love our maids); Vinod (the polite driver from small town with big dreams) and of course Vivi – friend in need is a friend indeed kinds (believe me we all have one of this kind in our circles). The not-so-expected arrival of the baby, Peanut (while reading I was rather wondering how moongfali would sound! ) makes the life for Y a little upside down but not so upside down for V. The real journey for both of them as a married couple begins from here. Both of them have different views on raising the child. The seven years of age difference between Y and V doesn’t help them much, a visit to the marriage counselor also is not of much help; but then the help does come for both of them from V’s parents who have been married for ages and imagine they never fought.
The book is a reality check on the married life of the Urban Couples who stay alone far away from the comfort zone of the families. As one reads, you will find yourself laughing over smallest of the matters which are detailed out in the book. Y’s tryst with the atta is one of the fun moments which a reader cannot forget! She searching for the ready dough in the kitchen had me out of my wits! V’s character is really endearing and his “I-am-born-curious-and-I-will-ask-all-questions” quality makes him fun to read. And to add to this, the arrival of the maid from Y’s mother’s house is another feather added to all those funny moments.
The book makes a good read, and it can be finished quickly so as a reader one doesn’t have to bother much as to when-it-will-get-over kind situation. Most of the incidents or rather all of it is so much driven from real life incidents that as a reader one could immediately relate to. The cover page is kind of cute (yes, it is a female way of saying it is good). Overall, it is a good book to spend money and time on it and believe me as a first title from the author; it does make a good read. Way to go Yashodhara!
Ginger Chai recommends this a “cool” pick.
|HarperCollins Publishers India
Love at First Sight and Other Stories by Deepak Karamungikar
Author: Deepak Karamungikar
Publishers: A S Arts
Deepak considers “”love at first sight & other stories” as a memorable selection of his very own choicest blog posts that have been a apart of his “Stochastic Chronology”. The blog that claimed the attention of several online blog readers ran from February 2009 and ended in July 2010. With applause streaming in from all corners, the man behind the show had to preserve some of the eye catches in the form of a book. It is a great initiative- to write a book for the sake of keeping art alive, so as to say.
Penning down poems is easy, for if you have the thought running inside you, if you have the power to assemble the prodigal words, scribbling in out becomes a piece of cake with a cherry as a topping- with assorted pouring out?- voila! That’s like a creamy punch! The same unfortunately cannot be said for novels, shorter- novellas- shorter- short stories (keeping aside 55 flash fiction –the newest Twenty-twenty member of the fiction world. Looking for mystery, illusion, intrigue, fun and conceit- Deepak assembles all of it in each of his masterpieces. You have characters turning into ghostly apparitions, gamble hub frequenters avenging each other. Elite socialites living starry existence and as readers, you can just marvel at it with awe. Having said this, at one point of time, they end up revealing their murky façade. Foolery and champagne follow in abundance, until you reach the remote nooks of civilization, where New Yorkers end up throwing their life at stakes of belle apparitions, and serial killers throttle beauties in confusion.
“Love at first sight”- comprises of unique selections like “Love at first sight”, “The Gambler”, “The Prince of Vijaypur”, “The Third Life”, “Summer of 1999”, “The Painter”, “The Fling”, “The Disorder”, “The Rebel” and“Alighted Doves”.
I would say, it is a good pick, the cover will make you think, but the stories will keep you rooted off your mind. Please don’t expect vampires and mermaids peeping from the pages, it is simply about real folks living among us, it is not a growing up series of shorts- if you are trying to learn how to sum up a story line in a couple of pages- BookMark “Love at first Sight”- for your book shelves.
About The Author:
(This was taken directly from the author’s website, on the request of the author.)
“I’m Deepak Karamungikar. I was born and brought up in Hyderabad, India where I now live with my parents, wife Bhavana and daughter Akshata. I like Pink Floyd, The Doors and Led Zeppelin in that order. I’m an MBA by accident and a writer by choice. I like narrating stories and hope to capture the reader’s imagination with every sentence I write. Other passions include Al Pacino, Ram Gopal Varma, food, beverages, gossiping and humor.”
Fb profile: Deepak Karamungikar-Ledfloyddoors
Email id: Deepak.firstname.lastname@example.org
Link to book: eBay- Love-First-Sight-OtherStories-Deepak-Karamungikar
my ratings: 3.75/5
Are you a writer? Publisher? Want to get your books reviewed here? Just write to us to get reviewed. Write to sip[at]gingerchai[dot]com or contact us here
Six Suspects by Vikas Swarup
The dearth of Indian crime fiction has been partially saved by the novel ‘Six Suspects‘ written by Vikas Swarup, better known for his novel, ‘Q and A’ that was adapted into the Oscar winning film, ‘Slumdog Millionaire.’ While ‘Q and A’ was a rather amateurish, not at all researched book with bits of faulty writing, ‘Six Suspects‘ is a tad bit better. While it has its own flaws, it is nonetheless a pretty good detective/thriller story that exposes the corrupt India and has a story that will be lavished by detective fiction lovers/fans.
The plot revolves around Vicky Rai’s (the son of the Home Minister of Uttar Pradesh) murder that took place while he was partying at his farmhouse in Delhi to celebrate his acquittal in a Jessica Lall style murder case(only in the book, the girl who was shot dead by Vicky was named Ruby Gill). There are essentially six suspects that are detained by the police as they were found carrying guns. Then, aptly, Swarup goes on and gives elaborate descriptions about all the six suspects and their motives to kill Vicky Rai. The six suspects are a motley crowd-including a sexy actress, an American,a mobile thief, Vicky’s own father, a tribal from Andaman and a former chief secretary of Uttar Pradesh. These stories are cleverly interconnected and intelligently converge at Vicky Rai’s farmhouse. In the end, an investigative journalist, Arun Advani, solves this murder mystery and the end is, I might say, quite unanticipated! The murderer is an unexpected one.
The story is well structured, with quite a few twists and turns that are definitely surprising.
Along with giving massive details about the life stories of all the six suspects, which by the way takes up a large chunk of the novel, Vikas Swarup also highlights the corruption rampant in India’s politics, displays the divide between the rich and poor and the different classes, the world of powerful contacts and influences and several more such instances that reveal the sleazy side of India.
Despite ‘Six Suspects’ being a good detective read, it still has certain weak spots. Firstly, Vikas Swarup tries to put in a lot of information about India in the novel and most of it is sadly lifted from ‘breaking news’ sessions of the Indian tv channels that can get monotonous. This aspect makes it look like ‘Six Suspects was written for foreign audiences and Swarup was aiming for this book to be made into a film as well. It seems there is a lack of originality. Secondly, certain ideas are rather stereotyped like the American’s view of India when he comes for the first time, the bit about Islamic fundamentalists is also very cliched(all Muslims are terrorists and all that crap). Although the story has an unpredictable end, there are times when the stories of the six suspects get predictable-for example, the tribal from Andaman has to be foolish and get duped by several people in India. Why can’t the tribals be intelligent for once?And there are several such examples.
There are certain creative bits as well like the English Literature professor ,which the former Chief Secretary met in jail, who expresses himself by uttering book titles only.
So the final verdict would be that ‘Six Suspects’ is definitely worth a read, a good crime novel that unfortunately shows only a newspaper version of India and does not delve deeper into India’s chaotic soul. From the writing it becomes apparent that the India of ‘Six Suspects’ though very real still has a touch of being seen from a distant lens. The lack of research shows through. So if one knows nothing about India, one can probably grab this book to know about its underbelly and get some background on all the wrong things that happened in the country in the past decade or so.
Are you a writer? Publisher? Want to get your books reviewed here? Just write to us to get reviewed. Write to sip[at]gingerchai[dot]com or contact us here
Xcess Baggage by Varsha Dixit
Xcess Baggage comes with a strange baggage with it and I can’t figure out if it is a surprise or a shock or I guess it is a mix of both….
At the onset I will say, please read it at your risk, I mean I am not saying don’t read it but then the beginning was not great, one has to hold on to ensure that one hangs on it. It is plain boring until the Vampire hits you on your face full on! Unbelievable but true, it is a story about a female in US who falls in love with a Vampire who is a werewolf, the one who is hell bent to kill her; reason, they want to set free ‘Unquiet Dead’ inside her by killing her and which would have benefited the specie of the Werewolves! Ok, I can’t explain these things detail, simply meant, the female protagonist must be killed or rather sacrificed for the well being of male protagonist ‘s clan….you can draw inference in whatever way you may like it.
So we have Meghna Chandra who resides in some part of US (off late I am reading all such books where the setting is always in US, I wonder why?) and Byron who is Lord, I mean not in literal sense but yes he is because he is a werewolf, a rare combination of vampires and wolves. There is a big clan though not so big lead by Byron the Beast as Meghna calls him. So as you move on, the story unfolds like a true fiction like a movie with all special effects with hero flying out of aero plane with heroine, saving her from dying etc. Oh yes! He excels in almost everything, literally yes, he has even studied medicine.
I hope and believe that it is a pure fiction (I am not sure if werewolves exist). You will enjoy the verbal repartee between Meghna and Byron, you will also hope that he will finally fall to her charms and you will also hope that they live happily after but that is not the case. What exactly happens? To know this, you need to read on.
The first book – Right fit wrong shoe – was really enjoyable, so the second book came with the excess baggage of expectations of being a better one than the first but somehow it is not so. Or, may be we had so much of expectations that it failed to meet so. The book is different in its own way for the simple reason I never knew or could think of this kind of plot so it was seemingly fresh to say. After you have managed to stay put through first five pages then there is no way you can put the book down without completing it which makes it clear that it is good in its own way. I mean if you ask the author which book is better, she will have no answer. My only wish was the different ending; yes a true happy ending would have sent my spirits soaring. I actually imagined that it will be a one bollywood ending but that was not the case alas! It is not even sad, it is just painful and leaves you with a question why or rather “Oh Noooooo”!!!
Over all I suggest to read it in leisure, reasonable price, sweet & sour story, not meant for those who do not believe in fairy tales, or who always believe in happy endings J
Yes, the review was late, I have been writing it for ages; I had read the book in its first week of launch itself….I managed to read some chapters again in order to write the review….and yes I can read it again (but not the first 4-5 pages !!!!).