Book Review: The Bankster

For the first time in the several years experience of reviewing books, I find myself at a total blank wall... I just do not have an idea on how to start. This is a book that has stunned me beyond comprehension with its plot, attention to detail and writing skills. In short, this is not a book to be missed if you are above 25, and if you have corporate working experience - or any working experience. But more of that in the analysis part...

The Characters

Vikram Bahl: I, Me, Myself... 
Tanuja: Undefinable
Krishna Menon: A man with a task, and the commitment to carry it to the logical end
Nikhil: Commpliant... but to whom or what is the question
Anand: Achievement / Target * 100. Period. Sure, he is clean... but he also knows when not to look...
Harshita: Sincere, Committed, Honest... but is this enough?
Zinaida: The Mystery
Raymond: Blunt, Straightforward
Karan: Digger extra-ordinaire
Indrani: Busy... Too Busy... Way Too Busy... until too late for several lives in the bank...
Joseph Berganza: The Start of the book... but dont forget him!

The Plot
The plot of the book revolves around the banking sector, and the linkage of funds to be used for illicit purposes through normal banking channels. That is the core of the plot; this is embellished with the back-channel of the funds and their front-end usage schemes to undermine India. At the core of the story is the bank Greater Boston Global Bank (GB2). The story starts with a blood-money diamond trade, moves to The Trikakulam Nuclear Power Plant issue, and only then goes into its core phase. The entire story thereafter revolves around the systematic breakdown of all systemic controls within the bank, and exactly how these breakdowns transpired. The front-end and the back-end stories are skilfully intertwined with the main thrust of the story  till their logical meeting point

The Analysis
First off, lets get one thing straight: this is not a book for the college student. This is a book targeted at the working professional as it delves deeply into the normal humdrum routine in an office, the political powerplays, harmless byplays, flouting of norms etc. It also refers to the question of success at any costs vs process-driven, honest and strategic working styles. In fact, in my opinion, that is the core of the story. Without an exposure to work experience, it would be difficult to get into the skin of the story. You do not need to have financial sector exposure, but yes - work experience is needed in my opinion for a full enjoyment and understanding of this book. For the others, the story would seemingly meander from around page 40 to page 100. In reality, the story does not meander at any point; the book is the fastest-paced book I have read in a long, long time.  

Students (and especially MBA students) who read this  should try to tolerate this part; once you cross page 80 or thereabouts, the book takes a sudden  turn into one of the most brilliant detective novels you are likely to find. Secondly, I would also nevertheless advise all college students to read this book, as it represents what can happen when processes and common sense are ignored, what can happen when you chase success at all costs. For the record, the 2007 crash happened precisely because processes and common sense were ignored. Treat this book as a lesson...

Coming to the book, it is one of the fastest paced books I have ever read in my life. I read it in one reading... till late at night. It is quite simply unputdownable, a page turner from page 1. The attention to detail is awesome, and very very believable. The part where stage is set has been dealt with great care. and is very practical. You get a chill in your spine, as you think "yaar, yeh to waakai ho saktaa hai. This can actually happen... ". 

Character development is flawless, if somewhat cliched. Cant say more, read the book. The author has used stereotypes superbly well in order to create the proper effect and impact. Further, note that this book has some 12 central characters - in a fast paced book. That indicates that the flow of the story, the character development and the plotting is par excellence. A few story turns also depend upon the personality of the character and the background. In other words, the author has used the character's personality to carry the story forward in places, leading to a scorching pace. The writing style is clean and effective, and enjoyable. All in all, 5 stars to the book...

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