Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Book Review: Private India by Ashwin Sanghi & James Patterson


In Mumbai, seemingly unconnected people are dying, strangled in a chilling ritual and with strange objects carefully arranged with the corpses.

For Santosh Wagh, head of Private India, the Mumbai branch of the world's finest investigation agency, it's a race against time to stop the killer striking again.

In a city of over thirteen million, he'd have his work cut out at the best of times, but this case has him battling Mumbai's biggest gang lord and a godman who isn't all he seems.

And then he discovers there may be an even greater danger facing Private India. Hidden in the shadows is someone who could destroy the whole organisation - along with thousands of innocent Mumbai citizens...


I have become a huge fan of Ashwin Sanghi over the years as I got to read his ever-increasing intense mytho-mystery novels. I picked up this book with those same expectations, coupled with James Patterson's fame in the thriller world. But the book failed to create that same kind of magic which his previous book weaved through intricacies concerning Indian mythology and its greater impact in today's world. Well, that doesn't mean that his every book should put forward their plots in exact same manner, but I found the charm of India's top thriller writer missing in this novel.

Private India, it seems, has been written just for the sake of being written a thriller. It contains everything that a thriller reader requires out of one - good character development, solid twists and turns every few pages and as such it makes a decent thriller, the likes of come out in plethora every year. James Patterson got heavier on Ashwin Sanghi in this one as Santosh Wagh, head of Private's Indian branch, with his team of hi-intelli-tech people races with time to stop and solve the seemingly unrelated murders.

First thing... how in a country like India a private investigation agency, that too not Indian but international, could be allowed to investigate a case and not the police or crime branch or CID, that's a big, big question in the start itself. And when you put such a totally unbelievable setting in a book, the rest of the things never fully touch a chord of sense-of-belief deep down with the reader. And what makes a thriller a super-read is how it makes the aforesaid connection between the book and the one holding it and eyeing out every page, every sub-plot, every heck of a neck-bending twist or a subtle turn one after the another. And the book greatly fails in that regard.

That said, I shall also reveal that it's not such a bad book to pick up. Regular thriller lovers will like this book I am sure - for its Indian-ness, how Santosh Wagh along with his gifted team and their international boss Jack Morgan (who out of nowhere is showcased as carrying the whole burden on his head in the climax in such a way that it makes it hard to digest) connects the dots and dashes in pattern with Indian mythology - that's where we see our own favourite Ashwin Sanghi propping up in the nick of time to save this piece of work from falling out of grace. But that's so short and very less often that it's unable to propel it to one of his much-loved books in the genre. And all the effort falls mediocre.

Final say: Read this book but just as a regular thriller, uncoupled with heavy expectations attached with the guy who held nation's breath with his The Rozabal Line, Chanakya's Chant and The Krishna Key. It's not a master-craft but then every book can't be. A decent thriller - Private India - read it and put aside. You won't be able to savour it like the previous three masterpieces of one of most celebrated storytellers of our generation.

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

P.S. -- This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!
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