The blurb on the cover of Ravi Subramanian’s 5th book “The Bankster” talks of “the John Grisham of banking”.
Like John Grisham, Mr. Subramanian certainly knows his facts and figures in his appointed area of expertise, that’s for sure. So there is that much in common with Mr. Grisham.
But what Mr. Subramanian desperately needs is a better editor.
Shoddy, sloppy editing marred what is otherwise a deeply researched, complex tale of banking skullduggery on a massive scale.
I didn’t count, but (and I think I’m correct) every time the author wrote “at least,” this is what we got :
That is just downright poor editing, and unworthy of someone of Mr. Subramanian’s obvious intelligence.
The novel ranges between Mumbai, Vienna, Kerala and Africa, with 3 stories running parallel. The Mumbai sections are far and away the strongest, which is hardly surprising, since the author was a banker for 20 years and lives in Mumbai, so there was an intensity and authenticity about the Mumbai sections. The Mumbai voices rang true.
Mr. Subramanian’s attention to banking detail is impressive, and you never for a moment doubt the accuracy and the authenticity of the plot. Banking scams happen the world over, that we all know, and the plot of “The Bankster” unravels a complex tale of financial deceit on a truly massive, deeply embedded scale.
The Kerala story, about a nuclear power station and the manipulative politics of protest, is touching, but it was only in the final paragraphs that I joined the dots. Perhaps I am a little dim, but a few pointers would certainly have helped me. As it was, I spent most of the book wondering why and when and where Kerala and Mumbai would intertwine. It ultimately makes total, satisfying sense, but only in the dying seconds of the book.
The same can be said of the African section, though those dots were joined for me in the Vienna part of the story – I obviously can’t tell you the ins and outs of the plot, otherwise the intricate storyline of “The Bankster” will be spoiled for you. Suffice it to say that, once again, I could have wished for the African section to be a tad stronger.
But the Mumbai sections can’t be faulted for their painstaking attention to detail, which is why they are faster-paced and dominate the book. There is something enthralling about reading a novel that purportedly took place earlier this year – all those dates and times at the beginning of the chapters bringing the action ever closer certainly make things exciting.
Technology plays a large part in the book, which is only natural given the way banking has evolved, and so most of the young bankers in the story use their mobiles and laptops and iPads and iPhones and Blackberries and voice mails as seamlessly as we, the readers, do.
And I also fully understand that the author needs to make sure all his readers are up to (technological speed) especially when technology is vital to the plot, but just occasionally the otherwise natural style of writing falters :
“iCloud is Apple’s own cloud computing technology. It stores applications, photos, contacts, pictures etc. across multiple Apple devices. So if you have a MacBook, iPhone, iPad and iPod, and you are logged onto the same iCloud ID on all of them, then documents that you create or save on one will automatically get pushed onto the other devices, pictures that you take from one will appear on the others seamlessly, provided the devices are connected to the Internet.”
This sounds more like a technical note, rather than a natural dialogue, which is a shame.
Ditto the supposed conversation below :
“No. Not really. She was very particular about what she spent money on. She was telling me before she went that she would be turning off the data roaming feature on her iPhone while on vacation. Her friends had told her that it costs a fortune if you keep it on. Data charges on roaming are prohibitively expensive, particularly while travelling overseas. Hence she would normally send emails or Skype with me whenever she had access to free Wi-Fi.”
A good read.
A clever, intricate plot.
But a plea to the publishers, Rupa – please, don’t let poor editing mar such good writing.
Published in 2012 by Rupa, the paperback of “The Bankster” costs Rs 250.
If you would like to order the book, nothing could be simpler. Just click on the link below :