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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Private India - Book Review

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Prelude

Private India, latest in the Private series by James Patterson, co-authored with Ashwin Sanghi, is a story set in amchi Mumbai. Those familiar with the Private series might find it at home, those not - this probably is not one of the best introduction to the concept. The fundamental requirement of any story is a plot. And when a story grows to be a novel, it requires some sub plots. And then the craft of the writer comes into picture to tether the sub plots together with the underlying plot, taking the reader through ups and downs, twists and turns and a satisfying climax. Though the coming together of names like James Patterson and Ashwin Sanghi would set the expectation of a crisp thriller baked to perfection of style and genre. Sadly, this one falls short. It is apparent that Ashwin wanted to try out something different from his usual mythological thriller genre. This one is a fairly straightforward serial killer story, with a small twist about terrorism, which does not work.

Plot 

(*Spoiler Alert)
Protagonist is Santosh Wagh, head of Private India headquarted at Mumbai. With a team comprised of an attractive lady investigator, a forensic expert & a tech wizard - Santosh sets out to solve serial killings happening all over the city which are apparently very connected and yet not at the same time. Throw in a politician with a murky past, a god man, terrorist involvement and sprinkle a dash of erotica - there you have the standard mish mash of thriller plots.

What works?

Few things. Story is a no brainer, easy to read and follow, in spite of a new character being thrown every now and then. It appears that there is deliberate attempt to keep the language simple and
fluid. That is why in spite of running over 450 pages, it is a relatively quick read. The sub plot of terrorism, though a bit predictable in the end is an interesting twist.

What does not work?

 The use of F* word seems forced at places. Many a times, writers have attempted too hard to divert reader’s attention, ironically, making the twist extremely obvious in the process.
The attempt to throw in an extra fact which if correlated can actually make story unpredictable - actually falls short each time, making the reader actually rightly guess what will happen next.
 Erotica is mainstream these days and the love making scene in the story looks a forced attempt to keep the story racy - a trait of a lot of mainstream contemporary writing. There does not seem to be any need for it from the perspective of the plot progression. But then what’s the need of a song sequence in a thriller, nonetheless it is there in our movies!
The protagonist character is absolutely clichéd. A former hero with a glorified past who suffered a personal loss losing his charisma in the process and landing up as a liquor wielding, bad tempered person. He cares about his team, but is not a man of many words. And even gets lucky, when nothing else works!

I was expecting a page turner, a tale which keeps my attention from the opening scene, keeps me guessing, closing all possibilities each time - thus frustrating me a bit who could have dunnit? This
is a far simpler story. If you are on a long train ride, this could be used to kill time. Sadly that is exactly what it does.

Rating

Plot - 2/5
Language - 2/5
Pace - 3.5/5
Hype - 4/5
Overall - 2.5/5

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