Book Review: The Bankster

Part of South Asian Challenge 2012

Title: The Bankster
Author: Ravi Subramanian
Publisher: Rupa Publications
ISBN: 978-81-291-2048-9
Pages: 358
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 4 of 5
Reviewed for: Author

This review is honored to be on the official page of the author. 



He is called the John Grisham of Banking and he is back! Ravi Subramanian continues his dream run with banking chronicles, in yet another unputdownable financial thriller, this time in the form of The Bankster. Repeating some characters from the earlier books and introducing a few new ones, adopting a changed style of narration with three parallel stories and linking it to a current affair – nuclear damage – Ravi comes up with a cracker of a plot and a total racer.

Carrying forward from The Incredible Banker, in the book is the old favorite  – The Greater Boston Global Bank (GB2) in Mumbai but also tugging along are two more parallel stories – One in Devikulam, in Kerala where an old man fights the government to come clean on the environmental impacts and the measures taken before they flag off the nuclear plant that is at the commissioning stage and elsewhere around the world a CIA agent is into the business of seeing through arms deals in exchange for blood diamonds on the orders of his agency. While it is business as usual at GB2 with people, power and politics twisted in the manner only possible in corporates, there are people dying from their Bandra branch team all over the place, in all sorts of manner – road accident, rash driving and suicide! This time around at the centre of the action is Vikram Bhal – the very manipulative and opportunist Head of Retail Banking, Tanuja – Head HR of GB2 who very gladly plays along the games Vikram plays including the infidelity game, Zinaida Gomes – the new high flying relationship manager with contacts all over the bank and a loose shirt button and finally an account so big that everyone falls for it on face value. Everything is ‘currency’ perfect till employees start dying in the most normal conditions, or so it seems till Karan Punjabi walks in. Ex-employee and now financial editor with The Times of India, he points out to Indrani – CEO, GB2 – how all these deaths could point to a much murkier scam involving the bank, forcing her to take a step that a CEO would not have under normal pressure – she lets an outsider investigate the internal affairs of her bank.

Ravi in The Bankster writes in the genre that is his niche, the three successful and acclaimed prequels to this book speak volumes of his hold on his muse, and he does well undoubtedly. The narration, plot, character development and most of all the suspense build up – just the right quantity – are beyond words. These are what put his books in the most awaited category and he delivers, bang on, but where he stumbles is the parallel stories. Both the Devikulam and CIA stories are very integral to the plot but they don’t stand well as parallel stories. These stories suffer from the age-old problem with parallel story narrations – Both are inconsistent in their appearance through out the book, infact there comes a point during the narration, when one of the stories popped up and I had to sit back and recollect who that character was. Though later on, the Devikulam story did assume regularity but by then you have already picked up your favorite story to pursue, in the storyline, as usually is the case with narrations with multiple storylines.

The strength of the book as in all of Ravi’s earlier works lies in the climax, the build up plays out so well at the end that the last 75 pages are dynamite, I would have killed if I had to put the book down during those even for a cuppa. A thriller is best enjoyed when the reader is provided the fodder to think it out and yet is proven wrong with the intelligence that the writer brings to the plot, The Bankster is just that. It is intelligent, addictive and has gone international. I really hope this one gets written as a screenplay, it will be a blockbuster on the 70mm.

Pick it up on the weekend, I bet my money on it, you will not realize how fast you breeze through those bulky 350+ pages. It is a total Rockster!

Happy Reading.

Thank you Ravi Subramanian for the signed copy and I confess I was shocked when I discovered The Bankster, went over and read the climax again!

Catch Ravi inKonversation with me about Books, Writing & WTF Generation.

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