The Bankster by Ravi Subramanian-Review

THE BANKSTER was placed in the bestseller list for international books. There is sufficiency in this world for Man’s need but not Man’s greed. Within this motto, the storyline revolves. The story revolves around three locations namely Angola, Kerala and in Mumbai.

In Angola, a covert CIA agent is about to exchange weapons for blood diamonds. In Kerala, an elderly man will do whatever it takes to fulfil a promise made to a dying son. In Mumbai, the main subject of the story revolves.

A series of murders, who is behind these killings, and what is their motive?

When Karan Panjabi, press reporter, the protagonist, digs deeper, he realizes that he has stumbled upon a global conspiracy with far-reaching ramifications a secret that can also cast a shadow on the entire nation.

With only thirty-six hours at his disposal, he must fight the clock and trust no one if he is to stay alive and uncover the truth. It is a thrilling novel, with the reading of each chapter, you will get goose bombs and the secret and the process of revelation says it all.

It has the intricate web of lies, deceit and treachery, a master storyteller, winner of the 2008 Golden Quill Readers Choice Award, returns with his most gripping thriller yet. The publisher of the book is Rupa, New Delhi. It costs Rs 250 /- only & has 358 pages.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

The design of the book is attractive, nearer to the theme, with a tall person holding the gun in his left hand and a black suitcase in his right hand, the background is international with a plane flying in the mist.

He is looking at you, standing beside the sea, at night time; it seems he has been there at the rooftop sky scrapper. This seems to be precise of the novel in the graphical user interface.

The novel introduction starts at Angola, South Africa, at the beginning of the twenty-first century. A land which was not safe to venture alone into even for local let alone a foreigner.

Over the years the Mr Joseph Braganza CIA agent the smart operative, fake nationalities and multiple identities would be a part of the game for someone running an operation of this nature, possibly a double agent in this novel had learned that the more relaxed, the lesser was the probability of being suspected of foul play.

The author wrote about the sad state of affairs of Angola’s artisanal miners-its devastating effects on citizens, only to lay their hands on in their quest for riches and wealth.

The author in the novel ropes in some of the realities inside happenings to make more colour and vividness to the story, the description of UNITA camp sides draped with olive green camouflaged has been the testimony of this. Joseph is smart, he had picked up the local language Portuguese, and it was always helped. It was a journey in a car by Joseph for eight continuous hours.

The exquisite furniture and the glitzy fittings near the exact replica of cottage above, made it look almost like a five-star hotel. This time Joseph met the big man himself General Antonio Swabimbi. Then, after successful transactions, Joseph flew out of Luanda to Namibia and from there to unknown destinations in Europe.

The next chapter begins in Interior Kerala, July 1979. Krishna, post their return from the Middle East spending most of his life working with gold traders at Thiruvananthapuram. It is about ivory smuggling, which is a non-bail able offence.

In Mumbai, the flats are expensive. Nikhil wants flat to stay with Diyva his better half and his search for the flat was exposed to the games of business leader’s play. (Page-49). There are some Hindi lines in the novel, justifying author’s love towards his own country.

The author’s romantic write up with nature comes to live, when he wrote (Page-52), ”Zinaida was struggling to keep her hair in place and also manage her short skirt, which was flying because of wind, exposing her silky thighs. ”

Vikram, the lecturer for MTs, not only he did love to speak, but he also got quite irritated if someone contra dictated or interrupted him. Krishna Menon met Jaykumar at Devikulam. Jaykumar diminutive and frail build, clad in a kurta-pyjama.

There was something different about him. Something intriguing. His face conveyed intensity Krishna had never seen before. (Page 64). Though the first impression not always the last one.At times at various parts of the novel, I feel about current issues has been there and part of the novel and this phenomenon is making it more lively, and real.

Tanuja’s possessiveness towards Vikram surfaced (Page-74) , Tanuja reacted to Zinaida praise by Vikram by saying “do you choreograph a fashion show Vikram”. Zinaida’s swaying posterior, confident walk across with arrogance in her stride, not particularly a traditional Indian beauty shows the glimpse of her personality, as she was smart and confident.

In one segment of novel (Page 104) dichotomy of international relationships was being shown as US and Uk combined in the Falkland Island dispute, it is strange and amusing contradictions of sorts that Israel, a staunch US ally, had gone ahead and sold the ammunition to Argentina, and the connotation even more interesting was the fact that, he, Joseph, who had brokered this arms deal, was, in fact, a covert CIA agent.

In this novel, Joseph Braganza, a covert CIA agent, has a lean body, small frame, toned figure and not an inch of fat. (Page-104)

The shocking parts of nuclear agitation do reveal that (Page 121) the fact that the entire international community was turned into the developments at TNPP.

All the agitators seemed aware of everything. Nuclear scientists from various western countries would give tips and pieces of advice, helping them counterbalance the government aggression.

What is surprising is that the one was the ease with which the agitators connect to the international scientists. The story flow of this novel is nice as it is in concretion with modern times and it does seem real.

In the chapter 15 Spencer’s store, Malad, 28th January 2012, Mumbai (Page-129), gave the instances of impersonation of credit cards and how the supervisor discretely revalued the customer, who has stolen it and also trying to run a screwed-up process.

In chapter 16, (Page-133), gives the glimpse of how frustration at work, was festering negativity, threatened to destroy Harshita’s personality, her work and, possibly even her marriage. There is brief travelogue on Viena which is beautifully written.

The death of Harshita and her husband Siddhartha, in mysterious circumstances at Viena as it seems they were run over by garbage disposal truck at around 2.30 A.M. Death of tourists in a friendly city like Vienna was a serious issue , and the circumstances that lead to this death could be that 16 missed calls on Harshita’s mobile.

In chapter nineteen, the nuclear protest day, when everything has gone bad for the protestor, the government gave them a stern reply and suffer heavy causalities for it. Krishn’s idea of the protest was more in the Gandhian mould. Violence, bloodshed, the pain was never what he had envisaged. (Page-164)

The feelings of Krishna erupted with sadness when he surveyed the destruction around him, chapels, torn shreds of cloth personal belongings and bags were strewn all over the ground.

What really horrifying is that after the death of two employees within two hours everything was sealed and life moved on? (Page-167) Not even forty-eight hours have passed since the event in Vienna.

Krishna’s sober side and empathy towards the four families that had lost a dear one was very traumatic for him, He had sleepless nights. (Page-175)

The Vienna murder investigation suggests that nothing had been found on their victims, no passport, no bags, not even a mobile phone. Just in case the murder was not an accident, the hat could have been the motivations? (Page-178)

A true thriller with jam-packed emotional Andre line running and with each passing chapters you will be getting hoards of information with easy to read legible language by the author.

The author’s style of writing is unique, it is nearer to reality as the novel is jam-packed with real information that has been twinkled and added to the novel with imaginary characters.

Author’s love of nature and travel is evident while describing the beauty of Vienna, also Thane Creek and the story of Vashi bridge from Mumbai to Navi Mumbai. (Page-179)

Throughout the whole sequence of murder mystery, one aspect is common and singular in each and every case, that is the missed call and the continuous missed calls and these are the indicators that are showing that the person that the inevitable in reaching to them, the real mystery hanging into eventuality.

It is for sue most of the victims had struggling personal and professional life.  To the Indian touch to all these mysterious deaths, Vikram thoughts written in a lucid manner in the novel (page-185) like “Satya Narayan Kim pooja karvate hain. Kisiki najar lag gayi hai”

Throughout the novel three storylines are there, one that is from Angola and then to Cairo and the second one is from Kerala and then to protests in nuclear sites and the third one is the series of deaths and after getting a lot of missed calls.

Author’s dealing with the current state of the affairs and depicting them into the novel in a lively manner testifying this to the fact that, all this goes to show the real knowledge of the author in current affairs and the way he added the imaginary characters into it in smarter and more understandable manner is praiseworthy.

Jaya’s realization over Krishna Menon attitudinal alternation with author’s own words is very clear (Page-207) and intimate; “What was born of a genuine feeling of discontent and care for the people living in the surroundings, arising out of his own personal tragedy, had turned into a completely different battle. ”

These words are the realization of revolt that has lost its prime motive but has taken over by ego and that is why Jaya is hurt at. This also reveals that NGOs are not what it seems to be, they are funded by nations and try to stop the essential development works in the country.

Karan’s elaboration of Raymond’s death is very interesting and justified. (Page-225,225) An author’s mind in true sense has been going towards the detective ideas in perfect manner bring into action here.

It is a real thriller at hand and read it in detail as all the writings have been in easy English. In chapter 32 Karan’s investigation goes on and by the end of the chapter, he got a serious lead to his investigation of a series of murders.

In chapter 33 Vienna police seemed to be getting the witness of Harshita’s murderer and finding the solid lead. Author’s style of saying the whole incidents and investigation is like what we have been seeing in television, it is so clear and lucid and up to the point.

As the testimony of the fact that (Page-261) the author says, “Every criminal leaf behind the clue. This piece of paper was all they had.”

In chapter thirty-nine how news channels, in the novel, is making the talk show how the nuclear issue will be highlighted in support of Krishna Menon. How the news channel’s exclusive story is being sponsored and somewhat going on the different side and author by describing all these also clearly dislikes in the tone of his writing.

But at the end of the show, Jay Kumar vindicated, that appears to be starting off as a victim. I this chapter, the writing style am of a big news debating style and it is for sure you will like this kind of modern writings.

Krishna’s mood changed and this has been observed by his wife through the offer of coffee, a mere nearer anticipation of marriage relationships. (Page-313) The circumstances that led to the assassination of Raymond revealed in chapter forty-four in great logical detail with plenty of circumstantial evidence.

The revelation of truth in front of Indran’s expression has been super, (Page-329) “Her face betrayed her anxiety, which quickly turned into frustration, followed by horror and finally anger.”

There are some actions scenes (Page-341) and the suspense continues with vital clues through thermal surfaces over the murder of two Indians at Vienna.

The story and plot are all about money and blood diamonds (raw uncut diamonds) an absorbing précis that has revealed since the plot from Angola. You can find the “secret of the niche in the drain” at page three hundred forty-four a rare and innovative way to solve the problem.

The motive behind all these gruesome murders slowly been released on page three hundred forty-seven. The murder, thunder and mystery behind the Mumbai scene of the novel have been slowly reaching conclusion with the help of Karan’s brilliant analytical mind which goes from cyber analytics to contemporary traditional analysis.


With localized Indian English, the writer has shown the real strength and make all the character real life like persona. There are lots of thread to the principal plot, but all have been knitted beautifully with small chapters and clear and lucid presentation of ideas. Sometimes just an idea creeps into mind how Karan without any opposition, as an outsider, as he was journalist how can he have done so fluent investigation?

The narratives of Karan’s investigations are original and modern. I am getting it the narrative style of presentation of ideas, the doubts do not revolve but the logic goes on to find the dark characters. In the yesteryear Bollywood blockbuster “Gumnam” where each person is doubted having to kill the latest , but in this novel we get the clearer picture and also the logic, which I must say niche as nowhere till to date I had read such clinical investigation, that had been done around the world spreading many countries. It is a fast-paced thriller.

Totally worth a read if you love a thriller based on an Indian setting! It is true the protagonist character was not introduced till the page of about one hundred sixties, at first I thought it was CIA agent Joseph who is the protagonist, but as and when the story reveals and in the last part of the story, the real masterclass of Karan’s vitality come to light.

Karan’s life and his interactions with Kavya could have been told more in detail but that does not seem to be so essential as this novel is a thriller and all through it the elements of suspense in nail-biting sensation prevails in utterly real-life situations. I embark on the tale of reviewing this wonderful thriller.

The Bankster – Author – Ravi Subramanian
Publisher – Rupa Publications, 2012.
ISBN – 978-81-291-2048-9

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