If you are a fiction freak like me, a “collaborative “ project by two well-known authors is always bound to pique your interest. And that’s exactly what happened when I first saw the newspaper article about PRIVATE India, "an Indian extension" to James Patterson’s ever popular PRIVATE series of books. And then I saw who he was collaborating with, and I think my heart literally skipped a beat.If you look around my blog, you’ll notice that I’m not really much of a book reviewer. And I assure you it is not because I don’t like writing. It’s simply because :
- I am quite brutally honest when it comes to reviews and feedback.
- I often find it a challenge to write a review without revealing the plot. And it really angers me when some reviewers just give away the plot of the book without so much as a decent “Spoiler alert” notification before doing so. But then, that's my peeve.
I received a copy of PRIVATE INDIA by Ashwin Sanghi & James Patterson on Friday evening. I started reading it on Saturday and despite life getting in the way numerous times, managed to finish it by Sunday night. So needless to say, it’s quite a page turner.
About the authors:
Unless you've been living a cave (or under a rock) in a remote part of some god-forsaken land, I'd be highly surprised if you previously haven't heard the names of either or both of these talented authors. The other explanation, of course, is that you could just be a non-book lover. Or a non-reader (*Yes, I gasped loudly too, the first time I heard that term. But apparently they exist!). Ashwin Sanghi is one of India’s best selling authors specialising in mythological thrillers and historical fiction. Though I have found some of his books a bit too "information-overloaded", his research and attention to detail and background is as impeccable as it gets. And this shines through and through in the book. James Patterson, on the other hand, is someone who has penned numerous international best sellers and whose recent books have sold more copies worldwide than Stephen King, John Grisham and Dan Brown combined. (Okay, says TOI here). I’ve always been a fan of James Patterson’s books and his trademark fast-paced plots and suspense have been weaved through brilliantly throughout the book.
About Private Series
Apart from his Alex Cross series, the PRIVATE Series has been one of James Patterson's most successful thriller series to date. Often dubbed as the world’s most exclusive detective agency, PRIVATE Worldwide is spear-headed by the suave and stylish ex-Marine and CIA agent Jack Morgan. With offices across the globe, they are often brought into play when the police hit a dead-end (or cannot be involved) and for cases where maximum discretion is required. Needless to say, the agency has tons of high-profile clients in every city, whose resources they unabashedly use to solve every case.
PRIVATE India (PI) - The plot (I promise - no spoilers)
When visiting Thai surgeon, Kanya Jaiyen, is found strangled to death in the bathroom of the posh Marine Bay Plaza in Mumbai, Private India (PI), the Indian branch of the exclusive Private Worldwide, is asked to investigate. Working alongside the police department, PI, led by the brilliantly perceptive Santosh Wagh (whose fondness for alcohol reminds me constantly of Dr. Gregory House, M.D from the American medical drama HOUSE) and his elite team consisting of ravishing ex-cop Nisha Gandhe, the meticulous medical expert Mubeen Yusuf and muscularly-built technology geek Hari Padhi, are determined to crack the case before it's too late. However the killer soon strikes again and leaves little clues behind with the corpses, thereby enabling the PI team to deduce a pattern. With a couple of shorter sub-plots seamlessly weaved in, Private India is definitely a page turner that you will struggle to put down.
Private India is exceptionally fast-paced and a thriller in its truest sense. At no point, did I lose focus nor find my attention wandering. And for someone like me, who often struggles to be attentive, that's a big plus point. Sanghi’s exhaustive research and historical knowhow is what makes the story and the city of Mumbai come alive for the reader. Throughout the book we come across familiar Mumbai landmarks and the vivid descriptions ensure that you picture them perfectly in your mind. The language is simple yet effective and largely un-marred by useless flowery references and comparisons. The authors have also managed to incorporate “present day topics and locations” into the story line almost effortlessly - such as ISI, the 2006 Mumbai bombings, Shakti Mills and so on. Overall, the collaboration gives an otherwise typical James Patterson thriller, a much-refreshing "desi-tadka", which will hopefully pave the way for more collaborative projects between Indian and Western authors.
One of the major misses for me was the lack of depth to any of the characters. In any book, I always look for a character or two, that I can take away with me. Someone who will remain in my head long after I shut the book. Though there is enough backstory provided for most of the characters in the book, I doubt I’d remember any of them in a few weeks. The otherwise simple narration is marred by the overuse of expletives - especially the F word - in the dialogues. Though I appreciate that the usage of the “F-word” is prevalent in most modern everyday conversations, I felt there were quite a few places where it was unnecessary. Also, the execution towards the end was a tad bollywood-ish for my liking and the “reasoning” - a bit larger than life. The authors have also indulged in a few typical Indian stereotypes that could have been avoided. I won't expand on this because I can't without revealing some of the plot, but it should be glaringly obvious to most readers.
I’m not a big fan of rating books on a point or star scale. I would sum up the book as a fast-paced thriller with genuinely interesting and well-researched sub-plots - definitely worth a one time read. If talented authors can continue to churn out books like these, I might also add that the future looks rather bright for the Indian thriller genre.