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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Book Review for Private India by James Patterson and Ashwin Sanghvi

Rating - ***
Private India by James Patterson and Ashwin Sanghvi is a crime thriller. Apparently James Patterson has written more of these for other countries and Private is a world wide investigation organisation as per the book. I'll not have any spoilers here but it did feel like reading an episode of a crime thriller. Yes, an episode, not even a movie. Although, I am absolutely averse to books that are detailed, this one was far too less detailed even by my standards.
For a change, the language was crisp and without any mistakes. This is a rare phenomenon in Indian writing. Yet, it could be attributed to the fact that the author teamed up with foreign writer James Patterson. The Indian references to the 9 avatars of Goddess Durga and the long lost history of the criminal communities such as thugees was a refreshing read. There were slight references to the obvious doubts that one places on the muslim community in case of terrorism, obvious references to religious places in Mumbai including the Parsi Tower of Silence, Colaba, Fort etc. These were the things that gave the book an edge and it had an element of surprise as well for the readers.
However, sometimes the surprise isn't as surprising when it unfolds. Same is the case with this book. The surprise is just plain funny and ridiculous. Yet, it matches with the rest of the plot and sits comfortably in the story. Hence, it isn't that bad. However, it leaves out a few loopholes in the plot. For instance, the serial killer in the movie revenges her mother for abandoning her and leaves out her father. Maybe, this was done on purpose to keep at par with the Durga story or maybe she was trying to put the blame on her father. All the same, the readers do not know and it isn't because the book had an open ending. This is a mark of bad writing and irresponsibility towards the readers.

None the less, the interesting twists and turns in the plot are fairly OK to keep the reader going. For me personally, it was an OK book but it may make a good read for the foreign reader who is unaware of mythologies and superstitions in India but beyond that, it doesn’t really have substance. Hence, the Indian book lover is not going to fall in love with this one.Except for Nisha the characterisation hasn't reached its full potential. An empty eerie feeling is left about each character at the end of the novel. If this was the very goal of the novel, it worked but if not, the author needs to change this pattern.

For someone like me, who has grown up reading Sherlock Holmes, Crime and Punishment and the like, this novel doesn't really make a mark in the world of crime fiction. It could have been a LOT better than this! Of course, Doyle and Dostoevsky are classics but this one was way too regular for my tastes.


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