The Bankster by Ravi Subramanian is a corporate thriller based in Greater Boston Global bank. Karan Panjabi, the hero from Mr. Subramanian’s previous book “If God was a Banker” is compelled to investigate the back to back deaths of 3 employees of the bank, his ex-employer. The investigation reveals that the employees were murdered to cover up a shocking conspiracy within the bank.
This is my first Ravi Subramanian book and I was intrigued by the plot. And the first few pages of the book do not disappoint. A CIA operative delivering firearms to keep a proxy war going and receiving diamonds as payment, the death of a man from Madras due to nuclear exposure in Russia. All of it set me up to expect a Frederick Forsythe style intricate thriller with a big reveal at the end and the coming together of all the seemingly disparate story lines. But I was disappointed at the end. The politics of a bank, the dishonesty of senior managers like the heads of retail banking and human resources was well written and gave this story meat. Though I felt the whole protest against the nuclear power plant did not add much to the whole story and the author probably used it as gap filler.
This would have been a great read if the climax wasn’t completely botched. The author stretched the reveal for so long that by the time it happened I lost interest. Some of the efforts to prolong the suspense were plain irritating. For example, how Karan Panjabi discovered a certain piece of evidence is explained at least twice and in some cases thrice, the reactions and impatience of characters which is a common tool used to lengthen the suspense was used too liberally for my liking. I noticed certain plot holes too, which I won’t mention in this review to avoid spoilers.
Another criticism I have is that Karan Panjabi enters the picture after more than half the story is over. So for most of the book there is no protagonist. This would not have been a problem if the other characters were well developed. But not a single character including Karan Panjabi later managed to evoke any emotional response. I did not feel any sympathy, hatred or intrigue for any of the characters.
And lastly I felt that the writing though not bad in terms of the grammar did not quite flow. There were many times when it felt forced and clumsy, like when you listen to a speech given by someone with stage fright. I would say this is an example of an excellent story idea executed not quite so excellently. It is an airplane book. You read it if you have way too much time on your hands and not many reading options available.
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