Thursday, November 8, 2012

"The Bankster" by Ravi Subramanian

  I have not studied and don't  understand economics or finance but I have interest in the field of economics and banking. This made me  pick up Ravi subramanian’s ‘The bankster’ for review.  I had read his  book “If God was a banker” and was mightly impressed with the book. He had so beautifully narrated in the book how the corporate sectors/banks work. I am sure anybody who works in corporate world  would be able to relate to  the book where you find people with various colors. Associates who are manipulative, scheming, straight forward, aggressive,assertive, sincere, dedicated with integrity etc.

And so when ‘The Bankster’ offer from blogadda came, I picked up the autographed book offer.

                                 The Bankster  by Ravi Subramanian 
                                      Published by rupa publications
                                                       INR 250

"The Bankster" as the name suggests is the story of a banker and  two  gangsters. The trio  are involved in illegal trading of  blood diamonds and arms, money laundering and nuclear power installation politics. How the three work and use the services of  a famous bank called Greater Boston Global Bank( GB2)  is the story.

 There are three stories which run parallely  in Angola, Devikulam(Kerala) and Mumbai as bases, they finally converge as one.

The story begins in Angola, where a CIA agent Joseph Braganza trades arms for the famous blood diamonds.

The second story is at Devikulam in Kerala where a retired NRI Krishna menon now  runs a homestay & protests against the installation of a nuclear plant in his village. He has lost his only son and DIL in the Chernobyl disaster and so has taken a vow that a similar incident should not occur in Devikulam. Here he is helped by a NGO worker Jayakumar in his anti-nuclear protest rallies.

The big story of the three has its base at Mumbai, The greater boston global Bank. The bank which is known for its integrity suddenly finds its reputation tarnished when a series of its sincere employees are killed in  accident and suicide.

A former employee of the bank Karan Punjabi who has now turned journalist finds something fishy about the deaths,  investigates and finds out the employees were murdered. He unravels the mystery  behind the murders and then out tumbles the scams like money laundering, illegal trading of arms/ diamonds and the relation to nuclear protests, thus uniting all the three plots. The climax has an unpredictable twist. At many places, the investigation reminded me of the CID serial.

What I liked about the book was the simple language used.  There were no financial or banking jargon used which would have wanted  a non –finance person like me to google the word. In fact, some of the terms like hold instruction were beautifully defined so that a lay person like me could understand. I liked the i-cloud explanation too, a facility of ipad which I was not aware of. 

Regarding the characters,  I am sure every corporate associate will encounter many Raymonds, Harshitas who are sincere in their work  balancing the scheming Zinaidas and Ruthless Tanuja’s.  For me the story picked up pace after Harshita’s death in the book. From then on the book became unputdownable that I finished at the stroke of 1  knowing very well that I have to get up at 5 next morning.

What I disliked about the book was  the beginning few chapters.  The chapters were toggling between The 3 plots and so I found it difficult to connect. Many a times, I went back to read the story especially the Devikulam  plot.  Similarly,  the description of the bank affairs in the book  somehow  sounded familiar may be because I had read “ If god was a banker”.  The  description of the sewage pipes connection in the Vienna base was too elaborate like a lesson on plumbing. It could have been simple.

I have a mixed feeling about the language Hinglish used in between the conversations. I found them natural as that is how  two colleagues/buddies  speak  in most Indian work place.  At the same time, the dialogues may be difficult to interpret for a person illiterate in Hindi , considering this book is read  around the world. I thoroughly enjoyed the Hinglish though.

The narration is so realistic at places that you may start doubting your own  bank and your banker friends around you :)

Jokes aside,  Pick up the 358 page banking mystery if you like this genre and it is not a financial  crime thriller as many have  touted it to be. There are no financial jargon that can scare you but a banking thriller  with an unpredictable twist in the climax and a racy second half. Wish he had maintained the first half with good pace too. This book is one of the top 10 bestsellers now. (Courtesy: The Hindu)

About the author:

This  book is  by a banker and finance professional, Ravi Subramanian who began his career in 1993 in Bangalore with the Tatas and IBM and shifted four years later to Chennai, where he worked with ANZ Grindlays Bank. Moving to Delhi, he was with Citibank for five years before shifting his base in 2005 to Mumbai (Shriram Group), where he resides with his bio-technologist wife-turned-banker. He won the golden quill readers choice award for his debut novel "If god was a banker" and he is hailed as the "John Grisham of banking"
                           This bookreview is a part of blogadda book review program


  1. Excellent Review :)

    I have only read good things about this book ..


  2. Agree about the initial chapters,I found the pace to be too slow while the last few pages were moving ahead at a supersonic speed!
    But overall a wonderful read!

  3. :((( indian authors booklaam inga kedaika maatenguthu :((

  4. @ Bikram - thank you bikram :) This is good too. But relatively speaking i liked his debut novel better( If god was a banker)

    @ shilpa - yeah shilpa, great minds think alike:) Initially it is slow, midway it speeds away.

    @ Gils - I believe the book has gone digital to reach youngsters like you. On the day of release(oct 15) nearly 60% of the book was online. So check out. naanum link kedaicha solren.

  5. soober :) apdiye intha krishna key ku kedaichalum sollunga

  6. Wow. If a book on banking and corporates, even if it involves a thriller, can keep you awake till 1 AM, then its a must read for sure. Nice review.

  7. Thanks a ton for a nice and fair review. Am glad you liked it. and thanks for the reco too. :)

  8. @ gils - kandippa.

    @ Ramesh - yeah, it was a good read.

    @ Ravi - nice to see your comment. my pleasure to reco :)