Book Review: The Bankster

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Title: The Bankster
Author: Ravi Subramanian
Paperback, 358 pages

Rating: Grisham of Banking? Not yet, but an author with potential of being a great one… A must read for corporate saga fans.

Summary (via Goodreads)

The uneasy calm in Greater Boston Global Bank (GB2) is shattered when a series of murders rock the façade of the compliant and conforming bank that GB2 has built up over the years. Who is to blame? Who is driving these intriguing and bone chilling murders? What is the motive behind these gruesome killings? No one has a clue.

And when Karan Panjabi, a press reporter and an ex-banker digs deeper, he realizes that he has stumbled on a global conspiracy with far reaching ramifications – a secret that could destroy not only the bank but cast a shadow on the entire nation. With only thirty-six hours at his disposal, he is running out of time and must trust no one if he wants to stay alive and uncover the truth.

About the book:

Ok, First of all I should confess that the back cover of the book got me totally interested. According to the summary, there are three major pillars of the story: an undercover CIA agent, a lone n old social worker in Kerala and the GB2 bank staff. The book starts off with a chapter that builds much interest about the CIA agent and his activities. Then the story starts revolving mostly around all staff in GB2 bank in Mumbai while it keeps visiting the social worker in Kerala who is opposing the Nuclear Power plant. Frankly the first part of the story got a little off track for me. It wasn’t until halfway when some people started dying (quite predictable though interesting way of telling) when story got more interesting. But the protagonist (Karan Punjabi) took really long to appear. So long that I had already forgotten about him. And at the end of book, I was confused about who was the real protagonist.

What I really liked:

Anyway, after the slow speed of plot in first half, story picked up speed. The character Karan Punjabi who has old ties with the bank gets involved and there the story gets really interesting. I wished there was more to CIA guy. It looks like he didn’t really get much face-time in the story. Though it was pretty obvious where things were gonna lead, the way they unraveled in the plot was damn cool. This is where I got the hint of author’s potential of becoming a great mystery writer. The story ended quite realistically for the genre. It didn’t end up in miracles. Everything was legal to allowable extent.

Final words:

I would really recommend this book to people who love to read corporate thrillers. Writing style of author makes this book a really great reading experience. His narration is top class. One thing I find different about Ravi Subramanian’s writing is there are no unnecessary details about things like we see in some other Indian novels. I guess I should congratulate the author as well as his editors for doing a great job.

 

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Book Review: The Krishna Key

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This is a guest post written by my friend Neelima.

Title: The Krishna Key
Author: Ashwin Sanghi
Paperback, 485 pages

Rating: A great thriller, well researched, gripping story… A must read.

Summary (via GoodReads.com)
Five thousand years ago, there came to earth a magical being called Krishna, who brought about innumerable miracles for the good of mankind. Humanity despaired of its fate if the Blue God were to die but was reassured that he would return in a fresh avatar when needed in the eventual Dark Age—the Kaliyug.

In modern times, a poor little rich boy grows up believing that he is that final avatar.

Only, he is a serial killer.

Things I liked about the book:

When I read books revolving around history and the mystery of places, I always think about the great history of India and many more things to read further. This book is one of those books.

The thing that impressed me most is the thorough research done by the author, I really appreciate it. I have watched Mahabharata but after reading this book I understood some of the minute details of its story. Special to mention is the research done for various locations like Somnath, Mount Kailash and many other locations.

The thriller feel is maintained throughout the book, puzzle of ‘The Krishna Key’ keeps you amazed at all parts of the book.

I liked the character Ravi Saini. I like the way he goes through every clue and he has immense knowledge and understanding of every clue. His ability relating the clues to historical knowledge and perfectly explaining his thinking to his friends /groups/readers is amazing.

Hats off to Ashwin as he must have dug deep in history through various references.

In short it’s a ‘Mythological thriller and pace of the book is good.

—-

Things that could have been better:

Story was good but the chapters ‘The Krishna’ and ‘The Mahabharata’ peaked interest in at start but fell short. I had started relating those incidents/locations to the existing story but it stopped short.

Then I just read the book while keeping in mind that these short chapters were for our knowledge, nothing was related to the actual thriller story, which actually made the book more interesting.

Characters in the story are perfectly explained, each person has its own background which is wonderfully written. But one question kept coming to my mind was “Were ALL the murders really required?” as the main clue was in something else (which you come to know after reading the book). In this case either I did not understand it or author has failed to explain it.

It was my first experience of reading Ashwin Sanghi’s book. The Krishna Key is a great read, good and thorough research done by author makes the book more interesting.

I would recommend this book for all mystery-thriller lovers.

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Book(s) I read: Alistair MacLean, Amish Tripathi, Grisham and Dan Brown

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I found this post in my drafts. I can’t believe I wrote this almost a year ago and left it in drafts… This is a long due post..

Anyway, here are the books from the reading marathon I had few months back: (All summaries are from GoodReads.Com)

1. The Guns of Navarone

Author: Alistair MacLean

This is one of the best action thriller novels I have read so far. And Reema gifted me these Alistair MacLean books when she visited Pune long back.

An entire navy had tried to silence the guns of Navarone and failed. Full-scale attacks had been driven back. Now they were sending in just five men, each one a specialist in dealing death.

I liked this book because it keeps you one edge all the time, has a gripping story, very interesting characters and background of World War II.  I will surely recommend it to anyone who likes sabotage missions, secret missions, cliff hanger moments (literally in case of this book) etc.

2. Force 10 From Navarone (Guns of Navarone #2)

Author: Alistair MacLean

The guns of Navarone have been silenced, but the heroic survivors have no time to rest on their laurels. Almost before the last echoes of the famous guns have died away, Keith Mallory, Andrea and Dusty Miller are parachuting into war-torn Yugoslavia to rescue a division of Partisans …and to fulfil a secret mission, so deadly that it must be hidden from their own allies.

This book is a sequel to the book Guns of Navarone, but one can read it without reading the first book as the has nothing much to do with first book than the characters. A good read but not as thrilling as the first one. I would still recommend it to people who like the setting of World War stories.

3. Ice Station Zebra

Author: Alistair MacLean

The Dolphin, pride of America’s nuclear fleet, is the only submarine capable of attempting the rescue of a British meteorological team trapped on the polar ice cap. The officers of the Dolphin know well the hazards of such an assignment. What they do not know is that the rescue attempt is really a cover-up for one of the most desperate espionage missions of the Cold War — and that the Dolphin is heading straight for sub-zero disaster, facing hidding sabotage, murder . . . and a deadly, invisible enemy.

I liked this book very much. As usual all the characters have their special characteristics which come handy at different places. MacLean does a good job of keeping the story gripping till the end. I loved the Nuclear submarine in which the story happens. The book is a bit slow at places but it does not hamper the story at all. I would really recommend this book all thriller lovers.

4. Immortals of Meluha (Shiva Trilogy #1)

Author: Amish Tripathi

1900 BC. In what modern Indians mistakenly call the Indus Valley Civilisation. The inhabitants of that period called it the land of Meluha a near perfect empire created many centuries earlier by Lord Ram, one of the greatest monarchs that ever lived. The people of Meluha are in great trouble and they need a hero. And the hero comes to them as Shiva. The Shiva we call as God now, he was just a man and a warrior years ago…

Great concept and interesting plot. Keeps you interested all the way. But language used by Author sounds too casual. By the time I reached end of the book, I got confused when the protagonist Shiva started doing some serious deep thinking. The image I had of him was of a powerful young leader but not as a serious thoughtful warrior. Blame the casual tone author has maintained throughout. Except this point, the story is really good. Entertaining and philosophical at times. A must read.

5. The Secret of Nagas (Shiva Trilogy #2)

Author: Amish Tripathi

The hunt is on. The sinister Naga warrior has killed his friend Brahaspati and now stalks his wife Sati. Shiva, the Tibetan immigrant who is the prophesied destroyer of evil, will not rest till he finds his demonic adversary. His vengeance and the path to evil will lead him to the door of the Nagas, the serpent people. Of that he is certain.

This book is way better than the first one.. Author has improved the story line, language and strength of characters. Finished it in one sitting. Couldn’t put it down once started. Waiting eagerly for next book in the series. I would recommend reading the series specifically for reading this book.

6. The Confession

Author: John Grisham

An innocent man is about to be executed. Only the real guilty man can save him… But how can a guilty man convince lawyers, judges, and politicians that they’re about to execute an innocent man?

This is first Grisham book I read. I picked it up at random from the library. It turned out to be a really good read. I like the writing style of Grisham. And I love courtroom dramas. The only problem with the book is that it doesn’t end even when story seems to have ended. Or may be I am not used to having epilogues embedded in the story itself. But still it is a nice book to read.

7. Angels and Demons

Author: Dan Brown

World-renowned Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned to a Swiss research facility to analyze a cryptic symbol seared into the chest of a murdered physicist. What he discovers is unimaginable: a deadly vendetta against the Catholic Church by a centuries-old underground organization – the Illuminati. Desperate to save the Vatican from a powerful time bomb, Langdon joins forces with in Rome with the beautifl and mysterious scientist Vittoria Vetra. Together they embark on a frantic hunt through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, deserted cathedrals, and the most secretive vault on earth…the long-forgotten Illuminati lair.

I guess I am too late to the party of reading Dan Brown books. But I wanted to put this book on this list because this has become one of the most favorite books I have read.. I love the speed of the story, and the realization that it all happens in less than one day really surprised me.. I loved this one more than The Da Vinci Code.

There are many other books I have read but now I realize that I am not good with writing about the books I read long time back. All I can recall is if I liked the book or not. So I guess I will stop this list here and write about them later.

Cheers.

Book Review: A Flawed God

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Title: A Flawed God
Author: Arjun Shekhar
PP: 284 pages
Price: Rs. 250 (get it for Rs. 200 here)
My Rating: 2/5 … Read if you like corporate thrillers, but don’t expect much real action 😉

Before I say anything else, here is a quote on back cover of book that made me get it:

An ordinary corporate executive turns assassin to save his firm from ruin with the help of the master of a secret guild out to revolutionize the corporation…

Wow, I thought. Another thriller in making. And that too with a different story. We know all dark corporate evil people who hire assassins for their deeds. But this was first time (as far as I know) that someone was actually dirtying their own hands, or so I thought.

The back cover of book, including line quoted above, had this:

Sanchit Mishra a.k.a. Sancho is staring bleakly at his performance appraisal form when an invitation from the mysterious Progress in Work Collective lands on his desk. His colleague and confidante, Pause Daniels, urges him to dig deeper. Soon he finds himself sucked into a secret world of anonymous superheroes out to revolutionize the business world by attacking that flawed god it worships – the share market. This parallel life pumps some self-esteem into Sancho, preparing him to do what’s needed when the firm is taken over by a multinational and an ugly industrial relations situation ensues.

The case for the transfer of ownership from shareholders to employees is made through Sancho and Pause’s story in this witty, fast-paced corporate allegory.

Now this got me confused (and a bit exited) about the book and I just dug in.

First two-three chapters actually got me interested in the plot. Sanchit aka Sancho gets the invite form Progress in Work Collective or as they call it, The Collective.
He flies to Turkey (at his own cost of course 🙄 ) and  somehow, after a terrifying journey (for him) reaches the destination.

The Collective is supposedly an underground society or something which fights for reorganization of all typical corporate organizations and make them more Employee focused than they are now. Good concept really. Someone really needs to do that, I agree. But I did not get why it had to be underground and so secret.

Then it the story revealed that there was a nemesis for The Collective, none other than ‘Shareholder’s Conscience’. Now that is a cool name. These shareholders are supposedly dangerous people and they always assassinate the ‘Master Craftsman’, the leader of The Collective. Well, things got little skeptical here for me. But I held on.

Then suddenly, after a good start of selection process of The Collective, story jumped 15 days to Sancho’s office. Author says he did not want to bore us with details of selection procedure, but it was awesome nonetheless. Hmmm. I was dissatisfied. I wanted things to go into more secrets but apparently there were more pressing matters at hand like villain of Sancho’s career, the General Manager of his company being sacked, Sancho’s boss getting abducted by a local goon (claiming it being on behalf of worker’s Union), Management changing hands, Acquisition of company by some American company etc.

So Sancho suddenly finds himself facing a lot of opportunities  to lead and he does that. He is (from start of the book) being helped by his genius colleague Pause. Now Sancho and Pause have to save company, their boss, their employees from a fiasco. Somewhere down the line I remember exactly how the story had started. And I found the most interesting part (for me) nearly forgotten. :O

The book ends with the protagonist(s) getting their love, victory and well deserved whatever. But it leaves you confused. 😀

The good:

Good points about how Employee’s turn into mindless ‘appraisal thinkers’. Author’s HR experience surely shines here. The language of the book is really good (I recently read Immortals of Meluha and The Secret of Nagas). Concept of The Collective, however far-fetched, was interesting. But..

The Bad:

Author blames current share market for world’s current condition. Though he would sound perfect to people who don’t understand Share market properly, I found it little far fetched. I know some points he makes are true, but they cannot be held solely responsible for everything. And even if we ignore the share market thing, I did not understand why he had to build so much mystery about The Collective and let it go just like that.  I wish he had written Sancho becoming a real sharp shooter or something and saving his company. 😀

The Final Word:

Though I sound skeptical all through this review, I must give credit to the author for picking up a bold subject. People who go through all work tensions and know what evil thing ‘the appraisal’ is will agree with him. I would say read this book if you like corporate thrillers. The action thriller fans can skip it. 😆 If Arjun Shekhar writes another book, I will surely give it a try. 🙂

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Book Review: A Prisoner Of Birth by Jeffrey Archer

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I have read many books in last 2 months and there are at least three Book Review posts(incomplete) in my drafts. Anyway, this review is gonna very short. 😀 Guess what, I wasn’t at all surprised by twists and turns typical to Jefferey Archer.

Summary on back cover says:

The fiction starts with Daniel Arthur Cartwright(Danny) & his girlfriend Elizabeth Wilson(Beth) meeting up at a bar ‘Dunlop Arms’ on invitation of his girlfriend’s brother & his best chap in life,         Bernard Henry Wilson(Bernie). Bernie gets over an heated argument centered on Beth with 4 strangers i.e, a barrister, a popular actor, an aristocrat & the youngest partner in an established construction company which eventually leads to murder of Bernie. Guess who’s accused as the murderer-Danny instead of the 4 protagonists.

Thus begins Jeffrey Archer’s most powerful novel since ‘Kane & Abel’ with the trial in which Danny is sentenced to 22yrs in Belmarsh prison- the highest security jail in England, because who’s gonna believe the truth lying with Danny & Beth when 4 powerful protagonists stand in the witness box.

Most powerful??? Certainly not. I am no lawyer, but still I was able to think of points the Defense Lawyer failed to notice. And what a surprise, it turned out to be *turning point* of our Hero’s life.

*************Spoilers below this line***************

A man(novels Hero) and his girlfriend, celebrate with her bro in a bar. A person acompained by 3 more people passes some bad comments on her. Brother get angry. They fight. Our Hero gets injured by a knife in left leg above knee. The bro gets stabbed in chest and dies. The blame comes on the Hero (name Danney).

20080331_jeffreysNow Danney gets a lawyer and fights against these four people who are well known legends in their field. I was wondering all through the case why there isn’t a single mention of Danney’s injury?

And in the meantime, Danney is sent to prison where he gets nice cellmates one of whom is a court marshaled army officer. He teaches hime reading, writing and manners, language etc. Danney and Nick(the court marshaled officer) look same. The same voice(?), style, looks, hair(thats possible) etc etc. So when somehow this Nick dies, Danney gets out of prison in his place faking his own death.

Fine. I buy this much. But after getting out of prison, Danney seamlessly operates and takes place of Nick. He becomes expert in Stocks, Property, and takes many decisions which makes him millionaire.

He executes his plans of revenge on the four culprits. And somehow one of them realizes its not Nick but  dear old Danney taking revenge. So  they trap him, get in custody and again case in court.

Now, this is the part I liked best. I like the court proceedings (but I don’t have any wish of having some experience of it 😀 ). So this part is full of bombs and landmines 😀  The key point, the turning point, a small thing that saves Danney life is his Leg injury during the fight in which his friend died. WoW. Thas really amazing Jeffrey!! I am still unable think how a lawyer can miss to mention such a crucial point? may be that happens only in novels.

*************Spoilers End***************

I have tried to lessen the spoilers but I can’t help it. Book is nice read if you don’t try to think everything logically or you are not a lawyer. Good as fiction and will certainly make a good Bollywood movie. But I am sure if someone makes a Bollywood movie on this book, the main killer will be caught in his own words in court and will start crying and shout suddenly,” YES, I KILLED HIM *SOB* *SOB*, I WAS DRUNK AND I DIDN’T KNOW…. blah blah blah…..”  😀

My Rating: Read if you have plenty of time. Rating 2.5/5

I know 2.5 is little more, but he has certainly written some good parts.

Cheers

(P.S> This is my first book review. So there are mistakes. Kindly ignore them 🙂 .
Coming soon book reviews: The Kite Runner, Life of PI, Next, The Third Girl….
I know these are old books and had been reviewed by many bloggers, but I read them recently!!
Sorry  but Confessions Revisited 2 is still in Progress as I am out of ideas.)