The Bankster rocksss…..
Arms trade, smuggling, peaceful protests, nuclear energy, mysterious deaths and a financial fraud in a bank….. Seemingly different and isolated aren’t they ? However, our author Ravi Subramanian feels otherwise, with his impeccable style of narration Ravi has weaved an absolute thriller that combines these seemingly unrelated topics and keeps the readers engrossed right from the page 1 till the end. “The Bankster”, his latest book, is simply un-put-downable.
There are 3 parallel stories in the book, the first one starts in the war-torn African nation Angola where a CIA agent sells arms for blood diamonds, the second one starts in Kerala where a father starts a peaceful protest to fulfill his sons last wish and the third in the Great Boston Bank where the seeds for a huge financial fraud are just sown, thanks to the greed and the vested interests of a few.
The plot at Great Boston Bank or the GB2 is easily the most interesting of all and forms the bed rock on which the entire story of the book is built. Corporate politics start getting murkier at the GB2 as Vikram Bahl, the head of retail banking starts shifting the gears and brings out his manipulative best to get people of his choice into the plum positions so as to achieve his personal motives.
The head HR Tanuja plays hand in glove to this opportunist and enjoys his “company” while her husband is on his busy tours. Things go from bad to worse as mysterious deaths rock the bank. Karan, an ex-employee is raged by the deaths of his former colleagues and jumps into action to unearth one of the worst scandals that when unchecked could have broken the back of the bank.
The plot and pace of the story are slow to begin with and the pace picks up as you move on and takes us to a point where it gets very complex. Here you start seeing money laundering activities, anti-India activities and the arms trade activities converging at certain points and becoming one. The climax is really gripping and one will not like to put the book down during the last 50 pages or so.
Coming to the characters, Raymond and Harshita left a strong impression on me. There would be a very short conversation between Harshita and her husband, where she drops her plans of getting an image makeover. Those 3-4 lines have left an indelible impression on me. Saying that I loved the way the characters evolved will definitely be an understatement, the love is much more bigger.
The author’s penchant for the burning issues plaguing the nation and systems comes to fore in the book and I liked it very much. Kudankulam and the money laundering charges against HSBC were on the back of my mind while I was reading the book. At some stage I was wondering if the plot was a result of authors views and musings on theses two issues .
Now that I spoke about money laundering, this book is a perfect eye opener for anyone on how money laundering happens. The author draws on his banking experience to educate the reader on how even small compliance violations can cost dearly and how the job of layering and routing the funds becomes easier when you can “manage” some of the guys in the branch.
Having dwelled enough on what I liked, here are few things that could have been improved. The track of the CIA agent, though important for the book, looks awfully short and could have been dealt with more length. Same is the case with Krishna and the saga in Kerala. Even this could have been dealt in a much better way. Both these tracks have been narrated from the main characters point of view, adding view points of people around them could have helped. Somehow, both the tracks looked subdued to the one at GB2 and I felt the space allocated for the other two also should have gone up.
All in all, the book is definitely worth the time you put in to read. On the front cover of the book, there is an endorsement from the Wall Street Journal which says that Ravi is the John Grisham of Banking. I knew the reason after finishing the book. It’s one of the best books I have ever read from an Indian author. Do read it and I am sure who see value for the money and the time you spend on it.
P.S. I received a signed copy of the book from Blogadda for the review.
I picked the images from the internet, one of the images was changed to suit the context. Please do let me know incase you are rightful owner of the image and it is not permissible for me to use it.