Thursday, November 08, 2012

The Bankster by Ravi Subramanian- A Review

I didn’t like The Bankster by Ravi Subramaniam too much. After a slow start, it picked up though. With three subplots, perhaps it had too much on the table. Although they were related, the bank thread was by far the strongest one, so it overshadowed the other two.

Three different locales, one abroad. Some detailing of local nuances would have made the settings more real. Structurally, if the same space could have been allotted to all three sub plots, the book would not seem so lopsided.

Also, the sub plots don’t come together properly. The joins are forced, so the reader has to mentally shift gears when there is a new locale described.

With a large cast of characters, it was tough to identify with any one among them. The lack of backstories made it difficult to feel for the characters. The narrator was in complete command.
We were fed information by the narrator. A  device first seen in Enid Blyton- rubbing a paper with a lead pencil to see what was written on the paper beneath was used here as well.
A series of unexplained murders at a bank lead to the discovery of a money laundering operation. Nikhil starts the novel off but then isn’t seen much in the latter part of the novel.
Vikram’s character is well etched. Initially the reader thinks he is a little dodgy, as he makes a buck giving Nikhil a flat at a rental higher than the market price. Later events show that he was being used as a cat’s paw.
What I liked about the book- banking often comes across as dry, but the cloak and dagger aspects of this novel lend this industry a certain romance. In that sense, like Arthur Hailey gives an insight in an industry in a novel, Ravi Subramanian has succeeded to some extent in doing something similar here.
But somehow, the murders don’t seem significant enough. They are incidental to the story. The twist is equally in how the money is being laundered as much as who is doing the laundering.
The how is pretty much in place, but the who is not convincing enough. Also, the title is a play on mobster, but to someone who doesn’t read the blurb, it seems like this is a book about a banker. Not a book about killings in a bank.
I’ve heard Ravi Subramanian’s If God Was a Banker was better. I think this book’s title is better than that J
The author’s knowledge of banking does come through. The end has too many revelations. Letting the reader participate, leaving some clues so that the reader can also have a shot at guessing the culprit would have made this a better book.
It’s not a bad read, so if you want to kill a couple of hours you can go for it. I do think Wall Street Journal’s saying that he is an Indian John Grisham is a bit over the top though. Do comment on how you found the book.

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