The first time I review a book for a Book review program, it happens to be one by an alumnus of my own alma mater – IIM-Bangalore! Not surprisingly, the author has set his book in an environment that he is familiar with – the Banking industry. The back cover of the book gives the impression of an international thriller. To me, however, the book is more in the mold of a whodunit, although it is a whodunit that uncovers a conspiracy instead of individual acts of crime. A thriller gives you the impression of a persistent tension through the book with the hero lurching from danger to danger as he uncovers and foils a conspiracy. A whodunit, on the other hand, is an investigative process that leads to the conspiracy being uncovered and danger, if at all, is largely suffered by other people than the main protagonist. Add to this the fact that the main protagonist – as indicated in the blurb – does not even make an appearance till half the book is done, one can understand my point about the book being more a whodunit than a thriller. As a whodunit, the book works very well indeed. It is an eminently readable book and the banking information that is required to move the story along is painlessly imparted to the reader. The story moves from Angola to Kerala to Mumbai to Vienna in seamless fashion. The incidents and narration are crafted well enough to keep the reader glued to the book. The basic plot is interesting enough and has a sufficient sprinkling of real life incidents to give the reader a feeling that this is the sort of thing that could be happening in his world. That sense of reality makes it all the more possible for the reader to relate to the book. The basic story is about a series of deaths of employees of a bank coupled to a set of suspect banking transactions. The initial deaths seem to be either accidents or suicides. What gives the reader a sense of something wrong and of a conspiracy is the prologue about an illicit diamond deal in Angola. A budding protest against a nuclear plant in Kerala appears to be out of context but is brilliantly linked at the end. There are a few glitches, however. The author has given space to characters that actually play no part in the story. When characters are named and their thought processes explored at the beginning of a book one expects to see them play a part in the story. Also, with the necessarily large cast of characters that the author needed for the story, it would have been better to dispense with detailing of unnecessary characters. I, unfortunately, am an English purist. The fact that Hindi words are used in dialogues and Indian English is used when characters speak is understandable – though it may have been better to italicize the Hindi words and limit them to merely giving the flavor rather than over-using them. The author, however, has a strong flavor of Indian English in his narration as well. Usage like ‘..in the lobby itself’ is an outcome of literal translation of phrases from Indian languages and in general use in India. To the purist, however, such usage jars and, probably, the author may find difficulty in finding a non-Indian audience. There are a few editorial glitches as well. The ACP of page 156 becomes a DGP at the end of page 158, for example. Not a major flaw but in a professionally produced book even this should not have been there. These are, however, minor blemishes in an otherwise eminently readable book. I would recommend that readers approach this book as a whodunit rather than as a thriller.
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