A thriller novel for me is when I finish reading it I have to pinch myself to realize that I have. PRIVATE INDIA by Ashwin Sanghi and James Patterson was more or less one. When two writers of the same genre from different corners of the world team up to write a collaborative fiction we have a lot for a good debate. It is easy to figure out who has contributed what to which section of this story if you have read their previous works. I could guess where the mythology came from and where the pace came from. Comparison with their previous independent works would not be reasonable though, for this seemed to be a different experiment.
A private investigating agency headed by an ex CIA agent with branches across the world in cities like London and Berlin has a branch in India. The head makes sure that he has the best in business employed in his team, or so we readers are told. The members of this Indian team, starting right from the chief with the cane and a Johnnie Walker bottle calling him day and night (a substitute to his troubled past) well each one of them are unsettled two dimensional characters. Read the book to know about the rest, and you will agree that they are not for your memory, not one passes as an Investigation Agent. What initially seemed like a series of high profile murders in a metropolitan city turns out to be a handiwork of a ritualistic serial killer. One complicated reality about a city like Mumbai is this- even death does not shake its spirit much. The police of this city being overworked are more than happy to hand over these cases to this agency. I wonder what the Central Bureau of Investigation in the real India has to say about such situations. The story is an absolute page turner, no second thoughts, the short chapters and font size help along with the speed at which the murders happen. The gadgets and the facilities at their office, detailed description of the tests, for example the vitreous humor and eye swabs, DNA tests with hair reminded me of Dr Salunkhe’s forensic laboratory in CID for some amusing reason.
Certain aspects of Indian mythology have also been drummed into the murder scenes, especially the concept of sacred feminine in Indian mythology and how the killer leaves tell tale signs. If the authors had gone beyond these surface details, particularly with regards to the nine forms of Goddess Durga and cared to tell the readers what this had to do with the mindset of this particular killer against women, bringing this part of mythology to these crime scenes in my opinion was more justified. The motive beyond the murders also remains an illusion. I now know the killer wanted to kill nine women, but to kill all of them in the same manner, nine times? So much spite? In Private India’s chief’s own words: “If you enjoy painting do you paint the same picture every time?” As a reader I am without knowledge about the killer’s intentions even after the end.
At some places, information provided about Indian history and some particular happenings could potentially misguide readers, say the Westerners. Research well done is appreciated only when well portrayed. Gangsters, godmen, celebrities, politicians, beggars, orphans, prostitutes, police, journalists, nomadic tribes, local trains, dilapidated buildings, terror attacks and millions of people- every bone of the skeleton of an Indian city has been touched upon by the authors like it is intended to be the right blend for a Bollywood project, nothing more.With suspense in each scene I bet there will be many takers. Sorry too many things in this soup for me.
The narration by the killer in between gave me goose bumps but I wasn’t impressed by the language. There are avoidable grammatical errors and irksome puns. C’mon not one but two authors for the book, one could have afforded to correct the other! I was on the edge of my seat with the turn of events but with many facepalm moments to be precise. Criminal psychology is one interesting subject. I wish it had some place in the story too, given that there was one strong character, also the issue of transsexuality is overly simplified.
Private India for me was only about major twists which kept me curious and left me so. I finished this book in two nights of bedtime reading. I am only sure of one thing now, no more yellow scarves and dupattas for the next few days for me, thanks to this thriller, one run of the mill read.
Title:- Private India
Series:- Other Private Offices, Private #8
Author:- Ashwin Sanghi & James Patterson
Publisher:- Arrow Books
Publication Year:- 2014
ISBN 13:- 9780099586395
Number of pages:- 470
My rating:- 2/5