Ashwin Sanghi is renowned for writing thrilling plots that keeps you gripped, very few Indian writers have been able to pull off. To think him pairing up with the writer of Alex Cross, James Patterson; you know something awesome is about to happen. The expectation is set at the very beginning.
For me, thrillers are synonymous to Steig Larson, having said that the expectation is set really high. But to begin with this book has truly managed to surpass it and earn a fan. This has been a really engaging and thrilling read.
Mostly, thrillers are plot centric so the background or detailing of characters is often missing; this is where the book scores and manages to engage you. However I felt the story in the backdrop lacked substance and could have been a little detailed. It was lost on me what would compel someone to go on a killing spree, the motive has to be strong when dealing with a thriller. I personally felt that the book was unnecessarily too long with 450+ pages, it became somewhat tedious however, the fact that it was engaging ensured that the pages turn almost seamlessly.
Private India is a eulogy to Mumbai, also known as the maximum city. I came to know so much about Mumbai which I had not known even after visiting the city for so many years. I loved how the book was peppered with facts, trivia and history about the city.
The book begins with the bombings of the local train which is followed by a mruder. How does a murder in a resort connect to a train bombing is what is investigated by ex-cop Santosh Wagh, now head of Private India. While Santosh assumes his duty after he is appointed by Jack Morgaon of the CIA, murders happen one after the other in a stereotypical manner. Each murder is followed by a clue. The clues are tantalizingly regular, a yellow scarf that was used to strangulate, a strand of hair. It vaguely reminded me of the recent Bollywood thriller Ek Villian, I could be wrong but the feeling was too strong to shake off.
Santosh Wagh moves from one murder to the other trying to decipher the pattern of the murders. The question that plagues him is whether the props were used to distract the cops or if they had a greater religious importance. There are two layers to the book, one where the bombings in local train is being traced to Pakistan’s ISI and the second where these serial murders are being investigated.
The more I read the more I felt that this book was written keeping in mind that it would be picked up by some director for a movie adapt. There is religious tension, then there is whole thud scene and then murders in a backdrop of a much loved city. While the tension was building, suddenly you are left dejected as the excitement fizzles out. Imagine a goon known to be influencing and menacing turning out to be docile at the very climax of the book.
Pick this book up as it is as entertaining as it gets. Truly one of its kind.