The Bankster by Ravi Subramanian is a story about bank fraud, people mysteriously dying and somebody piecing together the puzzle, connecting the dots and unveiling the big picture. The Bankster took me by surprise. Given my despicable knowledge and attitude towards banks and its inner machinations, the book threaded me along gently and carefully like a surgeon pulling along a newborn by umbilical cord.
So, the story starts off with the brief thing about blood diamonds before quickly jumping into the office politics and double crossing of Greater Boston something Bank. It is nicknamed as a more easy to remember GB2. The story progresses with a galloping pace like gossip spreading through unofficial communication channels. And you are soon beginning to develop the feeling that something is not being done right. In the meantime, you are also told this story of a boy who finds his father wrongly arrested for suspected ivory smuggling. And this father, Krishna Menon, is later engaged in a Anna Hazare styled demonstration against the government demanding answers. These seemingly unconnected events are then tied together rather smartly albeit hurriedly in the end through the story’s protagonist, Karan Punjabi.
The most enjoyable aspect I enjoyed about this story was Ravi Subramanian’s ability to show and not tell. It is a hard thing to do, especially in a textual medium. The story follows a linear timeline with action spread across couple of locations. The language is succinct and simple and there are bits where Ravi Subramanian uses his character’s motivations to explain things to the lowest common denominator, especially in the bits where he unravels the twisted knots and kinks in the end.
Though there were few things I wanted to better understand about the story, which led me to google the story. One of the many things which prompted the well crafted search string was the emergence of the ‘hero’ after the completion of 3/4th of the story. Turns out, The Bankster is part of a series, and I am just assuming here, but I am hoping that the protagonist, Karan Punjabi, was and is the protagonist in the series. The relationship between recurring(?) characters are alluded subtly during the course of the narration. This partly maybe the reason why I felt that some of the characters didn’t really get the justice they demanded. There were few other characters whose character motivations were uncharacteristic and required further explanations.
Would read the other books in the series, probably not. Am I looking forward to the next book in the series? I am not sure really. The story is good, fast paced (not in the way most of the book jackets scream and claim to be), but I have not really been turned into a Wall Street Journal junkie post reading this story. Sure, the premise of the story revolves around banks and their workings and the characters and the rest of the plot could have may as well been set up in a media house, FMCG or any other vertical, but for some odd reason I didn’t find compelling reasons to root for any of the characters.
But the most heartening things I noticed was the clear lucidity in the story which catered to Indian audiences and didn’t have dialogue translations to explain to a more cosmopolitan audience.