Sunday, November 4, 2012

Book Review: The Bankster - Ravi Subramanian

I am not a very big fan of murder mystery or thriller novels. My repertoire of thriller reads consists only of a couple of titles each by Agatha Christie and Sydney Sheldon and one by Paulo Coelho. It isn't like I don't enjoy the occasional adrenaline rush that a good thriller offers, but I can just never get enough of other books to have the time to read thrillers. But the latest book I've read has ignited a spark inside me to explore more of this genre. And who else could have that talent if not the universally-acclaimed John Grisham of Banking, Ravi Subramanian himself.

The Bankster is the latest title in the bestselling series of financial thrillers by banker-cum-author Ravi Subramanian. It is a racer of a book with a gripping plot and interestingly well-etched characters. A few of the characters in this book have been carried forward from the author’s earlier books while some have been newly introduced. However a reader who hasn’t read any of the previous titles should have no trouble in getting a grasp on this book – it’s a whole new novel altogether for first timers.

The Bankster opens with three parallel stories, each appearing to be totally unrelated to the others for most part of the narrative. However, as the story unfolds things shape up in such a way that the three seemingly unrelated stories happening in different parts of the world begin to merge into one intricately woven web of organized crime that keeps one glued till the end. In Devikulam, a small town in Kerala, a self-respecting old man loses his son to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Russia. Fast forward twenty five years, now this old man is resolved to save his entire community from meeting his son’s fate at the hands of the Trikakulam Nuclear Power Plant commissioned by the government in Devikulam, no matter how much struggle he has to go through. In another part of the world, an undercover CIA agent is carrying out a million dollar deal involving armaments and blood diamonds. However the major part of the plot revolves around the Greater Boston Global Bank (GB2) and the politics, corruption and power play associated with any corporate of such a level.

At the Bandra branch of the GB2, the Head of Retail Banking Vikram calls the shots, with everyone always working towards being in his good books. Tanuja, the HR head, is sexually involved with Vikram Bahl and by that authority, his ally in all political matters in office. Together, Vikram and Tanuja play games and manipulate situations into filling their pockets and consolidating their power over the branch. And then enters Zinaida Gomes - a hot, young, newly appointed Relationship Manager who instantaneously gets popular all over the branch as much for an extra loose shirt button as for her success in opening high-paying accounts and bringing success to the branch over a short span of time. Soon she overthrows Harshita Lele, an old and well trusted RM, as the RM of the year and everyone’s favorite at the Bandra branch.

However the Compliance team of the bank, headed by Raymond Saldanah, soon discovers that everything isn't perfect with some of the latest high-paying accounts opened by the Bandra branch. And at the same time, people start dying. First a cashier is hit by a speeding truck, then Harshita is killed while holidaying in Vienna with her husband, and then Raymond allegedly commits suicide in a horrific way. Although things move on at the bank within a couple of days but it all doesn't go down well with Karan Panjabi, an ex-GB2 employee who is now a financial editor with the TOI. He approaches the bank's CEO and sets about solving the mystery revolving around the 3 deaths and a suspected money laundering scam associated with them. As the mystery is unraveled, it also connects the dots with the other parallel stories in other parts of the world. How it all comes together to reveal a well-organized crime syndicate is what makes the plot worth reading.

Though for me, the ending did not really live up to the level of suspense that was built up throughout the book. It wasn't as impressive and deafening as one would expect out of such an intriguing plot. But in a nutshell it was a very good read. It's a 364 page novel and the fast pace at which the plot unfolds does not give readers any reason to keep it aside even for a moment. I would term it as more of a 'soft thriller' rather than a hardcore one, as it involves very less of bloodshed and gore and more of drama and banking sector politics, an ideal read for everyone on the weekend to stimulate fatigued brain cells. The book clearly deserves a rating of three and a half stars.

Catch the book's trailer here:

It took me two nights to read it through. I was also really lucky to have received a free copy of the book signed by Ravi Subramanian himself, right at my doorstep, thanks to BlogAdda. In fact, this review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books yourself!


Sushmit said...

How come I never get the books? O_o

Mahima said...

Up until last week even I used to wonder the same. Well, now I'm just waiting for the next book to be announced. :D

Nimi Vashi said...

Nice blog...very well maintained