Book Review: Private India by Ashwin Sanghi & James Patterson
When a series of seemingly unconnected murders rock the city of Mumbai with the macabre rituals and artefacts found around the corpses, Private India, a leading investigation agency takes the case. Santosh Wagh, the head of the organization, has only one mission. He needs to stop the killers before they strike again. However, in a city of over 13 million people, he finds that the clock is ticking too fast. He finds himself pitted against underworld dons and a Godman who isn’t what he seems. However, the worst is yet to come and Private India itself may be threatened with a revelation that could destroy the entire organization.
I must be honest. I read this book only because of Ashwin Sanghi. That man knows how to weave a compelling story around history and mythology and I was keen to see what he has done with this one.
I had only heard of James Patterson as #1 thriller writer in America but had never read of his books. A Google search later, I was more knowledgeable about his Private series and his protagonist Jack Morgan. This book is a collaboration to bring Private, an exclusive and world’s best-known private investigation firm to India.
If I say anything more about the plot than what is given in the blurb, I might reveal spoilers. So I will straight go into the review.
In a true thriller style, the authors introduce numerous characters right in the beginning. They include the Private India head Santosh Wagh, ex-police officer and alcoholic with a troubled past, his colleagues Nisha Gandhe, ‘head-turningly attractive’ ex-police, medical examiner Mubeen with a tortured history in America and technology expert Hari with a secret. Then there are Jack Morgan from Private L.A playing an important role, Assistant Police Commissioner Rupesh Desai with a history with Wagh, the various victims with their varying background and dark deeds, a gambling-addicted top lawyer, a Mumbai don, corrupted godman and a serial killer on the loose. Not all characters come alive; in fact some are very sketchy. They left me wanting to know more just so that I could figure out why they did what they did, especially in the sub-plot of Hari.
The plot is fast, engaging and interesting. The authors have added interesting mythological (Durga avatars) and historical (thugs) twist to the tried-and-tested serial killing premise. However, at the end, I was wondering the purpose behind the thug reference. The climax involving the identity of the killer was truly mind-blowing; however the extra few pages involving the India Mujahideen and the bomb blast plot felt too stretched. Why did the authors feel the need to include every topic of current affairs into the plot? Why is Mumbai made synonymous with bombing conspiracies? What was the significance of Hari’s sub-plot? But for me, the most difficult question to find an answer for was the reason behind one of the character’s need for sex-change. I was unimpressed with the over-simplified reason given in the book.
Sanghi is known for his meticulous research but I expected more from him in this book. Oh and one more thing – in the age of Google, one need not rush to the library to read up on any topic, including Durga avatar. Such small details should not be overlooked.
I have time and again complained against poor editing and grammar in a lot of contemporary authors’ works. This one is no exception. It really kills the story bit by bit.
Over all, Private India is a fast and enjoyable read if you are not the nitpicking kind.
My Rating – 6/10