Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Book Review: The Bestseller She Wrote by Ravi Subramanian

“He stopped his lecture soon thereafter and they broke into Q&A.” That was how the first chapter ended and it had me frowning. First chapter over, eight pages done and yet no murder! It had me scratching my head, was this a Ravi Subramanian novel at all?

Sure, the cover and the back says “Love. Betrayal. Redemption.” But then who takes the blurbs seriously? Bankerupt mentioned emu farming on the cover, but it was an out and out banking thriller i.e. exactly the fare we have come to expect from Ravi Subramanian.

So first things first, if you are a die hard Ravi Subramanian fan hoping for a traditional thriller, you are in for a shock. This book for most part is a romance novel with some elements of a thriller dropped in right at the end. After doing some digging on the internet, I found out this article where he has made it clear that with this novel he is targeting a new audience. However, I am sure that like me, many others are going to pick this up expecting something else because, by the virtue of his creative marketing efforts for his previous novels and having often been described as the John Grisham of Indian banking, as of now atleast, he has definitely been type cast as a thriller writer in the eyes of the ordinary reader.

The Bestseller She Wrote begins with the lead protagonist, Mr. Aditya Kapoor, the author of five bestsellers meeting Shreya, an aspiring author at an IIM-B campus event. The middle aged author loves the attention he gets from the young MBA grad while Shreya enjoys her access to his inputs on writing. Aditya gets her on his team at the National Bank and soon it is inevitable that the mentor-mentees shall be lovers, nevermind the fact that he is married. Though Aditya keeps getting enmeshed further and further in his lies, we are kept guessing about the genuineness of Shreya’s feelings as she alternates between expressing her love for Aditya and milking him for his publishing industry contacts. As all affairs play out, the deception is uncovered and Aditya tries to call off the affair while his wife goes through a crisis, only to find that Shreya has left him no way out. Backed into a corner, Aditya uncovers some secrets about Shreya which help him ultimately reconcile with his wife. It is towards this masala ending that Ravi Subramanian tries to make the love story seem like a thriller. But at the end, the explanations seem barely satisfactory and I was also annoyed (as I often am) by the few pages where the protagonist has found a way out of the predicament and is acting upon it but the author/narration doesn’t reveal it to us for many more pages.

All in all the story by itself is rather predictable and the ending seemed barely satisfactory. If I had to nitpick, I would also point out that some of the relationship stuff is wayyy unlikely. For example, they flirt and sext on SMS! Yes SMS in the world of WhatsApp and Snapchat. And the girl’s bestfriend is particularly pally with the girl’s boyfriend whom she doesn’t even approve of much. Like seriously? I am sure many guys wish that girl gang loyalty was so easy to breach and be able to turn one girl against the other but I have never heard of this actually happening. The more intimate scenes could also have been a little more imaginative.

That said, despite the not-so-great plot, the book does have a super redeeming quality, that kept me turning the pages. The book is flooded with references to real life events and publishing industry inside info. The protagonist Aditya Kapoor who is a superstar author keeps giving gyan about how to become a super-star author. What makes it even more interesting is that Aditya Kapoor has several traits of the current super stars of the publishing industry. He is a banker like Ravi Subramanian himself, he is from IIM and gets an offer to judge a reality show like Chetan Bhagat and is heavily involved in promoting his book like almost every author these days. I once even heard Amish promoting his book on the radio. There is so much speculation about who the protagonist is based on that some authors have put out statements to deny that they are him. (Unless that is also merely another marketing tactic from Ravi Subramanian’s team.)

Ravi Subramanian knows a fair deal about marketing his books. I got the first email about The Bestseller She Wrote from the ‘Think WhyNot’ Ad Agency, almost a month before its launch and this book has animated trailers as well! So through his protagonist, Ravi Subramanian gives us a lot of information about how books are marketed today and how celebrity authors obsess over their portrayal by the media. He even mentions book reviews from bloggers as a marketing technique! Furthermore, the book is also full of references to real life events and personalities and many of these references also seem to reflect the author’s attitude. We find reporters being called ‘presstitutes’ while Amish Tripathi and Ravi Subramanian himself are named as Grishams of Indian Banking. Nirav Singhvi also finds a mention and Anurag Kashyap is a minor character in the story. The best digs though are all aimed at Chetan Bhagat.
I don’t want a Chetan Bhagat quote. He might have seen today’s newspaper article and jumped onto the bandwagon for some quick publicity.
So finally, do pick this book if you want a time pass one time read infidelity story with an opportunity to laugh at the famous celebrity authors but if you are actually looking for an unputdownable Ravi Subramanian novel, you would be better off picking God is a Gamer or Bankerupt!

You can buy The Bestseller She Wrote from flipkart here - 

I am reviewing ‘The Bestseller She Wrote’ by Ravi Subramanian as a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers.

Disclosure : I was supplied with a review copy by Blogadda.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Book Review: ‘Career of Evil’ by Robert Galbraith

CoEThe job of a detective, in my opinion is to investigate a crime that has occurred. I don’t usually like it when he himself becomes enmeshed in a crime be it as a victim, a framed suspect or in any other way. Thus though I had enjoyed reading the first two outings of Cormoran Strike, I was wary of the third novel in which Strike has a case forced upon him when his young assistant Robin Ellacott receives an amputed leg in the mail. Our protagonists are forced to crack the crime as soon as possible since the negative publicity surrounding the event threatens to destroy their budding detective practice which now includes colourful clients like a man hoping to catch his stripper girlfriend cheating and a lady gather evidence of her ex-husband’s interference with their children’s lives.

The basic plotline in relation to the ‘crime’ unfolds in a rather simple manner. The sender of the amputed leg is a serial killer who likes chopping of bits of his victims and hates Strike. So in order to track him down Strike and his assistant focus their efforts on four primary suspects who have reasons to wish revenge upon Strike.

The key thing that sets this novel apart from the earlier two in the series is that (thankfully) the book is hardly about catching the murder alone. While Robin’s engagement with her boring accountant fiancĂ©, Matthew and its contrast with the sexual tension between her and her boss was just occasionally mentioned in the first two books, it becomes an almost equally important side story in this one with enough twists and turns to rival the hunt for the serial killer. This also sets the stage for revealing to us, Robin’s past which offers some explanations for her behaviour and elements of her unique personality. Since two of the suspects crossed Strike’s path in his former career as a Military Police Officer and one is his step-dad, we learn a great deal about Strike’s past as well, thus leaving us with a much enhanced understanding of the two protagonists of the series.

This novel is also clearly the darkest of the three so far with themes ranging from paedophilia, Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID), and detailed descriptions of violence as also of Strike’s mother’s sordid sexual liaisons. The various side stories of Strike’s relationship with each of the suspects adds colour to an otherwise straight forward tracking down of four suspects and attempting to link them to the killings.

What made the straightforward storyline of this book into a great novel that I enjoyed reading was the tremendous evolution of Robin’s character and her storyline in this novel. She is the real star of this show and makes the book a great read!

You can buy it on Amazon or Flipkart!


Disclosure : I was supplied with a review copy by Hachette India.