Ravi Subramanian’s novels deviate significantly from thrillers written by other Indian authors with their settings as the dingy ghettos of Mumbai and Delhi. The author loves his criminals to be high profile bankers, well qualified company executives, first time entrepreneurs, top class academicians. His characters are not the shabby looking, smutty clothed, knife wielding bastards left on the streets by their uncaring fathers; they are men of resources, most of them young, ambitious, shrewd and without any scruples. They sit in swanky offices of international banks, hallowed halls of research institutes, top class MNC companies and have lust and greed as their key motivators. Quite in keeping with an international style of thriller writing, the narrative is closely plotted and action packed, his characters moving in and out of the frame without a barb. From an earlier review of mine: Ravi writes without curlicues, he cuts to the chase without wasting time on unnecessary descriptions. His women are just described as beautiful (imagine what you want!), his men are, well, just people with different names. The blurb claims that this book is his ‘most shocking and adrenalin packed novel ever’, and I totally agree with that. It is unputdownable and for sure a ‘pacy’ read.
Aditya is an investment banker working for Greater Boston Global Bank, Mumbai. He loves risks and lusts after easy money. His opportunity comes wrapped in an offer from Step Up Shoes which is looking for a foreign buyer to sell its family owned business. Aditya beefs up valuations of this company and sells it to Boston based Snuggles Inc. While he is busy stashing his commission in an account away from India, his wife, Cirisha, a top researcher at MIT, finds out about how Step Up Shoes (now a part of Snuggles Inc.) is getting its shoes manufactured in factories near Dharavi, Mumbai, employing under age workers. In what starts as an email exchange with the Board of Snuggles Inc. in the US (through a close friend) will eventually open layers upon layers of unaccounted monies, commissions, corruption and white collared scams. Will Aditya survive the threat to his job and his personal life? Will Cirisha emerge a winner in her fight against these modern day ‘scamsters’ or perish in the end?
Running parallel to this story, Cirisha and her team at MIT is also fighting the findings of a research by a senior academic, James Deahl, who says guns should not be banned in the US. The research has been covertly commissioned by NRA, the US gun lobby and seeks to validate carrying of guns by every individual. In this instance, this sort of reinforces the underlying theme of the book. You can talk about gun crimes, even have the politicians (read: Republicans and the Democrats) debate about it for ages, put people behind bars, but what about white collared criminals? Seen anyone getting fined for cheating? Weren’t we cheated out of millions of dollars (rupees or whatever) when mortgage based securities market crashed the world over? Were these not bad decisions by bankers everywhere across the world that cost millions of people their jobs and careers? Seen anyone ever getting punished for the bad decisions made prior to 2008 or even post 2008?
I loved this novel and would strongly recommend this to all thriller aficionados. Next for me, Devil in Pinstripes.