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Business Doctors - Book Review

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Image courtesy : http://www.mbacrystalball.com/ Business Doctors - That’s a catchy name, don’t you think? I do, and that’s why it caught my attention back around May 2014, when everyone I knew was reviewing it. As a rule, I don’t read or write reviews for books unless I really have to. Then why make an exception this time, you ask? Well, sometimes when the positives outweigh the “can be improved” side of the balance, it seems unfair not to write a review. Plus Sameer asked me very nicely. What can I say - I’m a sucker for politeness.
When Sameer eventually asked me to review his book, after my rather honest take on Mango Chutney, initially I declined. But then he made his case. We discovered that we both had management backgrounds and we both had decided to go down a path less walked upon in terms of career changes, and eventually he got me to say yes. To review the book, that is.  

This is what the Good Reads blurb says about the book :
WHEN THE CORPORATE WORLD MEETS THE UNDERWORLD
 
Ivy League educated management consultant, Michael Schneider, gets hired by an unlikely client – a desperate mafia boss who wants to give a makeover to his family business that spans across gambling, drugs and porn. But the client's seductive wife and bumbling goons weren't part of the deal Michael signed up for.

The first thing that you notice about the book as soon as you pick it up is that for a self-published book by an Indian author, the cover is a big positive. A dapper man (with an almost-Bradley-Cooper-esque jawline) holding a mean ass gun - I mean, does it get better than this for a sort of “Michael Corleone (The Godfather) meets John Grisham” type of book? I think not. The biggest peeve that I have with most Indian authored books is the cover. I honestly cannot get myself to pick up a book with an unappealing cover. Thankfully, Business Doctors isn’t one of them.

Before I go any further, I’d like to put forth a disclaimer - The opinions expressed here are entirely mine and has not been influenced in any way, shape or form by Sameer or any one else who may have reviewed the book. And with that established, I’ll dive in.

What worked for me

  • I might not be the first person to say this about the book, but I sure as hell will not be the last. Sameer’s concept for Business Doctors is (pardon my usage!) bloody brilliant. In today’s Indian fiction scene, where everyone is a writer “bursting” to tell their stories  (yours truly included), it is imperative that every book has a Unique Selling Point - USP, if you will. And Business Doctors has its USP in the form of the concept. Not in a hundred years could I have imagined that the principles of management consulting could be tied so smoothly to the Underworld. But somehow, Sameer does it. And I have to tip my imaginary hat to him for that.
  • It is a welcome change to see an Indian author churn out believable and almost authentic American characters in an all-American setting. And the fact that “Hinglish” doesn’t raise its ugly head, is such a welcome relief. Sameer -  if you’re reading this, you must accept this virtual high-five from me.
  • The main characters are fairly sketched out and almost three-dimensional, each complete with their own unique quirks, insecurities and even sense of dressing. But for me, some of the minor characters stood out too, especially Joe.
  • The unravelling of the plot - though the pace did slow down at times, the overall plot and storyline succeeds in keeping the element of intrigue intact. While I wouldn’t quite describe the book as an un-put-downable one, Sameer has cleverly weaved everything together.
  • The Management jargon - Sameer has taken special care to almost “dumb down” some of the management lingo, probably to ensure that even people from non-management backgrounds can appreciate the book.  But yes, there is still a fair bit of management principles and “discoveries” and “solutions” in there.

What didn’t quite work for me

  • The mysterious disappearance of Martin - As someone who at times, seems to be the more sensible of the duo, in my head, I’d imagine Martin to have a more meatier role. However, when he suddenly disappears without so much as a sign, as a reader, it leaves me with more questions.
  • Mr. Woody - The Mafia boss is portrayed to be violent and ruthless. However, at no point during the book did I, as a reader, feel intimidated by him.
  • The Mafia operations  - While I appreciate that it may not be a field that the author has full and complete access to (I hope not - Are you with “The Family”, Sameer?), personally I was expecting a bit more of the “oomph” factor for the Mafia operations. Instead, when Sameer simplified some of the management jargon, he seems to have inadvertently conventionalised the workings of a Mafia organisation.
  • And this is one thing the author is probably tired of hearing, but I honestly miss the paragraph breaks. At times, it almost felt like they were avoided to reduce the number of pages.

The Verdict

For a first time author, Business Doctors is a promising book. If  you have a bit of management background (even a very basic one), you must pick it up for the single fact that someone has dared to attempt to “fiction-ize” this topic. However if you have absolutely zero interest or experience in management, you may find yourself losing a bit of interest and skipping a few pages. Overall, the best way to describe this book would be:

It is experimental masala fiction peppered with interesting nuggets of management lessons. I’d definitely recommend it as a one-time read.

 

About the Author An MBA graduate from the prestigious University of Cambridge, Sameer Kamat also manages two websites - Booksoarus and MBA Crystal Ball