Book Review: Private India


Author: Ashwin Sanghi & James Patterson

Publisher: Arrow Books

Price: INR 350

My Rating: 4/5

Private India has certainly evoked my liking for thrillers and mystery. It is the rare combination of Ashwin Sanghi, a renowned Indian thriller writer and the world’s popular novelist, James Patterson. Having given up on thrillers, some years back, I wasn’t too sure if I was opting for the right book. However, once started reading, I really did not have to force myself for finishing the book and it took me some hours to finish it. As one of the authors has rightly said, “The pages turn themselves”, and it did happen to me.

Private India, a private investigation agency is known for solving the toughest of cases across the globe with its branches spread far and wide. Apparently, this is a unique way in which Patterson gets an opportunity to connect with authors of different nationalities and weave a story around some bygone incidents of the places. Private Vegas, Private LA, Private Berlin, Private London are some of the names that proves the repetitive success of Patterson.

The plot revolves around the serial murders that’s happening in Mumbai with the murderer leaving behind some cues. Santosh, was given the responsibility of being the head in charge of Private India by its owner, Jack Morgan, with whom he made connections during the investigations of the seven train bombings in Mumbai in 2006. Santosh was then an agent with RAW, India’s intelligence agency. Santosh has been portrayed as a drunkard who is plagued by the harsh memory of the car accident in which he lost his wife and kid. He seems to be under continuous agony and guilt of losing them. Apart from Jack, who’s seen to be a visiting officer, Santosh had a team of three supporting members in this case Nisha Gandhe–another investigating officer, Mubeen—Private India’s full time medical examiner and Hari, a technology geek.

The best part is the suspense that’s well kept till the end. The plot is woven beautifully and the interest in the story remains till the last few pages as it is impossible for readers to figure out who the culprit could be, only till the time, the same is exposed in the climax of the story.

Ashwin Sanghi has done it in the past and just like his previous novels, this novel too has a mythological touch. He drives the pattern of murders from mythology, which is quite intriguing. Santosh with his undeterred faith in stars and also with the help of cues, which the murderer left behind at each spot, infers that the murderer is inspired by the nine roles of Goddess Durga. Also, since it was the time of Navratri, he concludes that the murderer would aim at nine murders in nine days.

“The first victim was left with a lotus flower and a dining fork tied to her hands, and a toy Viking helmet tied to her feet. The second was found with a rosary in one hand and a bucket of water in the other. The third as found lying on a faux animal skin, half a rupee coin placed on her head, and a small brass bell-shaped pendant hung around her neck.” (Pg. 125-126)

The twist in the tale is when the one you’d least expect turns out to be the culprit. And, this isn’t as simple as it sounds, as the authors have extraordinarily showcased the plot with just too many suspects and several intertwined connections giving different angles to the story.

Apart from that, the backdrop of Mumbai suburbs and the explicit and enchanting exploration of the metropolis would make you feel nostalgic despite the fact that the novel talks about the insecurities attached to a city like Mumbai.

“Mumbai—once known as Bombay—was a throbbing metropolis with the attitude of New York City, the chaos of Kathmandu, the vibe of Miami, and the infrastructure of TimbuktuOld British monuments jostled for space with corporate glass towers and filthy slums. At traffic signals, handcraft pullers slowly made their way to warehouses, their bodies bathed in sweat, while chauffeur-driven Mercedes-Benzes transported their millionaire owners to luncheon meetingsMumbai was a study in contrasts and people tended either to love it or hate it.” (Pg. 30-31)

With too many goodies for a pack, the only thing that I found lacking in this book was an exciting climax. The presentation seemed to me a bit straightforward and boring. With too many connections and suspects entwined together throughout the story, as a reader the expectations were surely on the higher side, but the climax could not make up to it.

Overall, this book has revived my liking for thrillers. It’s after ages that I’ve come across an interesting thriller that kept me glued till the end. There’s no end to the bafflement that the book unfolds at each and every stage and that’s what is expected of a good thriller. The plot is as unique and fresh as the morning dew. The duo have just set the right expectations without overdoing things. It’s a magnificent combination of thrill, action, betrayal, love lost, friend that was, and more. A truly enthralling read.




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Book Launch: Women Extraordinaire – A Novel by Suchita Malik

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(Left to Right) Author Suchita Malik, Haryana CM Mr. Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the renowned author and a former diplomat, Mr. Pawan K Verma & Mr. Kapish Mehra, Managing Director, Rupa Publishers

New Delhi, February 11, 2014: RUPA Publications, known to be the “House of Bestsellers” launched a book by the author Suchita Malik on February 11, 2014 at Indian International Center, New Delhi. The book called “Women Extraordinaire: A Novel” envelops the story of five determined women, showcasing on how strongly they fought against trivial situations or gave up due to the twist of fate.

Haryana Chief Minister, Mr. Bhupinder Singh Hooda released the book and expressed his views on not how just the women described in the novel are extraordinary, but all the women on this earth are respectable and amazing beings. He explained how every woman in our culture is given importance. The event also witnessed the gracious presence of the renowned author and a former diplomat, Mr. Pawan K Verma and Mr. Kapish Mehra, Managing Director, Rupa Publishers.

The uniqueness of this event was the family of the author, who managed the stage as orators. Suchita Malik’s daughter and son were the anchors, speaking on behalf of their mother with great pride and enthusiasm. This is a third novel by Suchita. The first one Indian Memsahib was launched in 2008 and 2011 marked the launch of her second novel, Memsahib’s Chronicles.

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Haryana Chief Minister, Mr. Bhupinder Singh Hooda speaking on the occasion

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The Lowland

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Author: Jhumpa Lahiri

Publisher: Random House India

Price: INR 499

My rating: 4.5/5

Book Review:

A journey that dates back to the times of the Naxalbari movement at the lowland, in an area of Calcutta called Tollygunge. This book by Jhumpa Lahiri talks less on emotion and more on practicality and selfish being of one of the main characters named Gauri. Without being impacted by melodramatic instances, the novel beautifully captures and enthralls you with different aspects of emotions at each level.

The detailed and accurate description of Tollygunge is splendid; “The flooded plain was thick with water hyacinth, which grew aggressively. Its leaves caused the surface to appear solid. Green in contrast to the blue of the sky.”

The story progresses describing the bond between the two brothers Udayan and Subhash in their childhood days. The beauty lies in the simplicity of deeds and actions that take place in Tollygunge between the two brothers. Their course of action seems realistic and easy to relate. With passing time, the differences grew between the two even more naturally. It’s usually observed that the siblings start having different ideologies with growing age, thus crops the difference and distance. Lahiri has crafted this transformation beautifully without any artificial embellishment of verbiage. In fact, the complete novel withholds immense description that’s surreal, but can connect you with the real world.

The dramatic contrast in relationships of the two brothers, mother and father, husband and wife, mother and daughter creates awe. It forces you to think how easily you can relate to it in today’s world, even though her story is based during the 20th century. Udayan, the elder one, being dead in the second half still holds importance throughout the story. He’s the protagonist in the real sense, though physically his role is minimal. Gauri, her wife marries his brother not out of love, but out of selfish motives. It’s astonishing to see a character so strong, outstanding wit, extraordinary practical, thankless and a truly self-centered woman like Gauri.

Lahiri has skills to make you feel a participant and you would feel the anguish and hatred for Gauri is so mean and using Subhash tactfully as a medium to get rid of her in laws and the place where she lost her husband, right before giving birth to Udayan’s child that she carried in her womb. The portrayal of a woman, who could change her appearance to mix in foreign culture just to escape from her past; who could leave not just the man who supported her in her bad times, gave father’s name to her daughter and later on even leaving her own daughter without a trace, is self exemplary to describe Gauri’s character.

The best and the most perfect contrast to Gauri are Subhash and Bela (Gauri’s daughter). They define loyalty, emotions, trust, and humanity in true sense. Bela, who would hate to think of her mother because she left her astray, probably at the growing age when she needed her most. The hatred was captured well at the end of the story at the time of Gauri’s confrontation with Bela. The cycle seems to complete at this juncture when Gauri sees and gets to know that her daughter too had a daughter, which means she was a grandmother now. However, no one else but she herself was the reason for the deprivation of the finest relationships on earth.

Jhumpa Lahiri is known to write in simple language, but this simplicity has so much of emotions engrossed and engraved in it. This is the fourth novel by Jhumpa is a tremendous display of encroachment of societal norms, not under helplessness or any dire situation, but to satiate the selfish motives of living the latter of your life on own terms just because the former did not turn out to be your way.

I personally loved the novel The Lowland as I see a multitude of variations in one’s mood, nature, choices and life as a whole. This is absolutely true and close to almost anyone on this planet. If we are humans, we got to be accepting the challenges in life. Everyone has their own ways to deal with them. The back and forth, the thud and thunder, the smooth landing back again is what makes or breaks someone. This book is an extraordinary journey through such remarkable events of life that touches your heart and soul, making you feel a part of the drama.

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