Friday, November 9, 2012

The Bankster – A Review


The first time I review a book for a Book review program, it happens to be one - 'The Bankster' by Ravi Subramanian - 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 mould 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 face 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.


Ravi Subramanian's presence on website(s) and social networks



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

27 comments:

  1. It is an apt review correctly pinning the book to the slot of 'whodunit'. The fine line has been correctly drawn. You have fairly summed up the story and the technique, language and the lack thereof, too. Unfortunately, poor English is a serious repellent to me, not to speak of the typographical errors. I'd like to skip the elaborately cooked up curry. Great diagnosis, Suresh!

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    1. Mmm! This English thing always bothers me, Uma! The language is evolving and maybe all this is now acceptable! But, for me, it does jar to see this style of English.

      Great to hear from you about reviews - considering how adept a Book reviewer you are.

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    2. Glad to find some one who shares my opinion and is candid enough to post it on blog! In my review I have just made a passing remark about the language. The reason I think is that it is fast becoming a distinct language. In fact some sites now offer you to select Indian English too much in the lines of English (USA) English (UK). I wonder how rest of the English speaking world is going to understand what "eating money" means or the line from a popular TVC "tu bhi na .... mumphali ka ke thoo it " !

      Check out my review too if you please.

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    3. Or, chewing my brains, for example :)

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  2. As I see , this is the first book of the author .. Hope he reads this review and takes them as constructive criticism for his next venture :)

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    1. No Puru! He has written a few books earlier and has even won the 'Golden Quill' award!

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  3. some time back i did a mini crime series on the same theme, banking crime... titled 'the fraud' (http://titli15081977.blogspot.com/2012/04/fraud-part-1.html) on my blog....wonder how i fared?

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    1. thank you!! feeling really honoured that u took out time to read the whole thing! thanks again!

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    2. Uhoh! Don't swell my head by calling my visit an honor :)

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  4. Wow..!!! I have reviewed 2-3 books through the Blogadda program and I am soo impressed and inspired by your honest review. Very well done. Really liked the way you brought out some minute flaws that actually say a lot about the book.

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    1. Thanks Surabhi! I am a novice when it comes to book reviews. Glad that you found the review good.

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  5. Maybe I should enroll myself too for these reviews!! At least I will get to read some free books too.

    A good review CS, looks like a good thriller!!

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  6. Nice and fair review. His books are an easy read - Must have taken you an hour to finish it.

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    1. 380-odd pages TF! Took about 4-5 hours - but, yes, the book was an easy read.

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  7. Nice review Suresh. The usage of Hindi words had irked me too, and I could not help mentioning it in my review as well. BTW, did you receive the book so late?

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    1. I asked for it that late, Diwa! I just about started thinking of book reviews.

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  8. A very honest review! The DGP and AGP glicth i just noticed when you pointed it out! The usage of hinglish did not go down well with me as well!

    http://rinzurajan.blogspot.in/2012/11/bankster-book-review.html

    Here is mine if it interests you! :)

    Take care! Keep writing, you happen to be few of the Indian bloggers who knows his English well! :)

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  9. I dare not comment on a book review sir, so I have not read this post also and i ma being honest after the bollocking i have got at writing a comment on a review , I dare not :)

    but I have read all good things about this book

    Bikram's

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    1. The book is quite readable! Only it does not compare with the best that the west has to offer.

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  10. Thanks everyone for your honest comments.. as i have seen from this blog and the others too.... Hinglish in bits and pieces has not been very well received...almost everyone has pointed that out as a glitch in an otherwise fab book. Will surely keep this feedback in mind when i get down to write my next book. Thanks for liking my book and for the frank and honest review. No one is perfect, but one can atleast make an attempt to get closer... which is what i will try to do with your feedback :)
    Cheers
    ravi

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    1. Good to hear from you here Ravi! Sorry for the belated reply but fractured hands will brook no deviations :)

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  11. Hi,

    I liked your blog. I thought that we could do a few cross blog things.

    Would you be interested in reviewing my new book "Love, Peace and Happiness:What more can you want?"

    I could do an author interview on yours. I could also post your review on my fanpage referenced below which has more than 10,000 fans giving you a whole new set of visitors.

    Let me know if this makes sense for your blog.

    Rituraj Verma, author
    www.facebook.com/BookLPH
    www.riturajverma.com/blog
    email:riturajverma2005@gmail.com

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  12. A crisp and informative review, just as I like them to be. You were right about that one thing we have in common :) It is said when English Authors literally translate regional languages; makes me not want to read them. But I guess that is how 'pulp fiction' is defined in India today.

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    1. Why pulp, even general fiction needs to be a Bollywood movie - or so it seems to me :)

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