June 21, 2014

The Bankster - Ravi Subramanian


                    Before I get into the review, let me provide a quick list of things I expect from a novel classified as a thriller. 
1. A well connected plot, 
2. Gripping, edge of the seat narration, 
3. Loose ends tied up towards the end and 
4. Atleast one character that takes my arrogant deductions for a toss.

                    Ravi Subramanian’s ‘The Bankster’  in my scanner, scored a tick against all of those points except for the language and narration. That said, let’s proceed to the surgery.

                   The Bankster is an elaborate plot that describes and exposes a massive scam of international proportions, that involves diamonds and nuclear plants. Under the lens, those two areas do not matter much towards the end, but they drive the unraveling of the plot nevertheless. The story revolves around the Greater Boston Global Bank, referred to as GB2 (On the lines of DDLJKBKGKANKOSO and the like from Bollywood) and how a bunch of corrupt individuals in an unseemingly innocent day to day operation, paint a picture of fraud, money laundering and murder even.  What begins as a bits and pieces  timeline narration, grows into a full blown goose chase, brought to a glamorous and convincing conclusion by Karan Panjabi, who comes across as a minimalist version of 007. The fact that he happens to be a journalist cum ex-banker cum sleuth-in-training tends to sound a wee bit easy. I personally felt he could've just been another smart fellow who figures things out logically.

What worked for me:

- The plot in general. Good story, well-woven and neatly tied up.

- No stereotyping anyone anywhere.Which was a huge relief and helped take the story forward at a good pace.

- Though there wasn’t a big bang type of revelation during the climax, this one character’s involvement in the evil plans caught me by surprise, even if mild, and was worth the dough.

What didn't work for me:

- The language and the narration, throughout. For a thriller, it was quite bland. The plot was doing all it can to keep me intrigued but the writing remained lagging all along. So, what could’ve been a well above average thriller, ends up a few bars below, lacking panache. More reasons in the next few points.

- From cover to cover, the language is extremely colloquial and by that I mean the kind of conversational oddities we employ while talking to each other. To me, when it comes to the written word, I prefer language that stands up to some degree of quality and given this genre of fiction, lends it a more ominous and persistent voice. As a result, we have ‘na’ and ‘re’ and a generous dose of Hindi, which is not even highlighted in italics, peppering the text. Beyond a few pages, this got very annoying and watered down the seriousness of the pace. I’d cut some slack if the author had intended such dialogue to differentiate between two sides to a single character, for example, chocolate boy next door is actually a serial killer, but no, here it only makes the text sound flippant.

- I was left in a muddle at a few spots in the text.

1. Almost everyone treats everyone else like dirt. They call each other idiot, fool and swear constantly at each other. I understand that all of us are chronically frustrated towards our co-workers but I have not come across folks who hurl obscenities at another openly. What would become of bathroom breaks and back talking then!

2. There are scene changes within chapters that could’ve been separated with a dash or star or something to that effect.

3. During the climax, Vishnu Shome goes from being introduced as Assistant commissioner of Police (ACP) suddenly to DCP (Deputy commissioner of Police) within a few pages! Typo, I assume, or that man is Sherlock Holmes (The surname could actually be a play on the name!).

4. In the first few pages, one character advises another to hire pretty women even if they aren't particularly quick on the uptake. The dialogue says ‘Hire smart young women, even if they are thick-headed’ – Eh? If a woman is smart, she can technically not be thick headed right? Enlighten me if am wrong.

- The first half of the book is slow. It picks up pace only after two thirds of the story is down. But it doesn't get boring anywhere along the way, I’ll give you that.

There are a few grammatical errors and spacing issues that show up, a definite headache for any author and any editor, given that these days we edit on our computers. I’m including this here in the hope that people concerned with the book, might take notice and fix it in subsequent print runs.

Verdict:

The Bankster, started off as a slow disjointed read but ended up picking pace and finished as a well connected, neatly closed plot. Perfect for a weekend read, especially when you've had a tough week and would love to juggle up your mind and forget that Monday is fast approaching.

Rating : 3.5/5

P.S : My copy was autographed! :) Yay! Thank you, Mr. RaviSubramanian. All the very best.

Did you like this review? Agree with my perspective? Not so much? Why don't you drop a comment and we'll discuss :)

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