Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Private India Book Review

Before I received a mail from Blogadda about “Private India” being up for review, for the first time after ages I already knew about the book, after all I had been waiting for it for a really long time, possibly since I first heard about the co-authorship. A combined effort of James Patterson, one of the most popular thriller writers of the world and author of more than 100 novels, and, Ashwin Sanghi, better known as the Indian Dan Brown and author of one of my absolutely favourite books ‘Chankaya’s Chant’, comes the latest addition of the Private Series, “Private India.”

Before beginning with the review, here’s the basic storyline from the back cover of the book, after all I don’t think I’ll be able to provide a summary as enticing as this one, just yet.

In Mumbai, seemingly unconnected people are dying, strangled in a chilling ritual and with strange objects carefully arranged with corpses.
For Santosh Wagh, head of Private India, the Mumbai branch of the world’s finest investigation agency, it’s a race against time to stop the killer striking again.
In a city of over thirteen million, he would have his work cut out at the best of the times, but this case has him battling Mumbai’s biggest gang lord and a godman who isn’t all he seems.
And then he discovers there may be an even greater danger facing Private India. Hidden in the shadows is someone who could destroy the whole organisation – along with thousands of innocent Mumbai citizens.

The story starts with a glimpse of the 26/11 terrorist attack in Mumbai and being the brainchild of two amazing writers, it takes you back to the night of the horrific incident, rather vividly.  Cut to the present times, we see the exquisite writing style of James Patterson. In fact if you are familiar with earlier works of the authors then it’s really easy to differentiate which part has been contributed by whom.

Like I mentioned earlier, Chankaya’s Chant by Ashwin Sanghi has been one of my favourite books so far. The ruthlessness and brilliance of it leaves you spellbound. I have even read his other two books, Rosabal Line and Krishna’s Key, but neither can match the ferocity of Chankaya’s Chant.

As far as James Patterson is concerned, he is considered the thriller master and having read few of the ‘The Women’s Murder Club Series’ and a few of the ‘Alex Cross Series’, I can say without a doubt that when it comes to thrillers, Patterson knows what he’s doing.

This being said, I hadn’t heard much about the Private series, except that they are written mostly through collaboration work of Patterson with someone or the other. However from a standalone book viewpoint, a newcomer to the series might struggle with the 'Private' concept, like I did, but, the detailed description of the gadgets and the facilities at the Private India office reduces the feeling and at the end of the day it is just another high end Private Investigator book.

The story most definitely is a page turner and given the number of thrillers I have read, there were quite a few surprises, which really did surprise me! However, after I finish reading, and still feel that something is missing, I try to figure what went wrong and where.

The one thing that kept on bothering me was the presence of too many elements in the sub-plot, like the Indian Mujahideen, the mafia don Munna, and the Godman Nimbu Baba, which kept cropping up at regular intervals. Even though the roles of these people were limited, the story could have been just about the serial killings. Apart from this, celebrities, politicians, beggars, orphans, prostitutes, police, journalists, local trains, dilapidated buildings, terror attacks and millions of people; basically every bone of the skeleton of Mumbai has been touched upon by the authors like it is intended to be the right blend for a Bollywood ‘Masala’ project, nothing more. Also I felt that transexuality has been treated rather lightly here, which seemed a little insulting and derogatory to the character itself.

The whole book read like a Bollywood movie with unnecessary cliché’s and laced with disturbing language, very layman style, especially when you take into consideration the brilliant works of both the authors done earlier.

With aspects of Indian mythology set as the centre stage for the all the murders, the handiwork of Sanghi I believe, the concept of sacred feminism and how the females are still shunned, in certain ways and places in our society, could have been developed a little more. I really do wish the authors had delved further into the subject, rather than just the surface details. The motive and the mindset of the killer was also left sort of unexplained. I feel criminal psychology is a really interesting subject and there was a lot of scope here to develop it further.

Most of the characters are pretty commonplace, apart from Wagh, our protagonist and the serial killer. I feel there wasn’t enough justice given to the antagonist while writing out the character, as people love to delve into the psyche of such individuals, I know I do.

Most of the book is written in third person but the parts involving the antagonist are in first person, which was disturbing and quite distracting at the same time, an inconsistency given the otherwise accurate portrayal.

The only reason that worried me initially was if I’ll be able to finish the book in the one week’s time given by Blogadda, owing to my schedule, but once I started reading, I was able to finish it off in three days, not regular three days but three nonetheless. Thanks to the short chapters and reader friendly font size. So if you have any doubts about your reading speed, this book is an absolute confidence booster.

All in all, a pretty decent book for anyone who is into a little spicy Indian thrills with a good taste and sense of humour. Also it could be a pretty good opportunity to familiarise oneself with the writing styles of both the authors. 

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  1. Dear Archana,

    It sounds an interesting review.

    Also agreed to the point that you made that one should not mix match the authentic writing style of literature with the cinemas. literature has always carried its unique identity across decades.so in that case our writing community should not start following hard lines of cinemas in fact let them follow the literature as always.

    Zeeshan Ali

    1. Thank you Zeeshan. I completely agree to your views regarding genuine literature, or lack thereof.

      I suggest you watch old english movies, they completely encapsulate the essence of the books as well as the characters, i think you'll like them. Like you said, I also believe that's how it should be, not the other way around, and movies like Gone with the wind or Godfather (to most extent), bring back that faith.

      Btw amazing thought process. Kudos to you my friend. Hope you start writing again soon. Would love to read your work!

      Warm Regards,
      Archana Sharma