Book Review- The Bankster

Book Review : The Bankster – Sponsored by BlogAdda

Author – Ravi Subramanian

Publisher – Rupa Publications, 2012.

Price – INR 250/-

ISBN – 978-81-291-2048-9

The Bankster, from the bestselling author of The Incredible Banker, or so goes the Blurb below the title. Actually, this is the first book I have read of the author Ravi Subramanian, I having missed out on his previous bestseller. Although I have heard of it being spoken of in book reading circles, I really wasn’t interested in reading about high finance and its associated skullduggery as I reasoned it would be all about killing with call statements and destroying with bank drafts. But I confess I was surprised and have changed my mind that bankers do a get a little action too (and even some on the side). And the reason is this one- The Bankster- an amalgamation of a banker and a gangster. Something which anyone who had dealings with any MNC bank, thinks in their minds but rarely says so. So here goes a brief synopsis of the story – Spoiler Alert- if you haven’t read it.

The story takes place in parallel in two different worlds. The first one is of course at Greater Boston Global bank (GB2), specifically its regional branches at Mumbai and deals in depth with the jealousy/politics and shenanigans going on between the various branches in the name of cut throat competition and incentive based pay. And the second story is the rapidly deteriorating situation involving protests at the site of a to-be-commissioned nuclear power plant with the climax tying them together into one whole logical story.

The novel starts off with Vikram Bahl, the eponymous banker of the story, and Retail Banking Head of GB2 running rings around his colleagues, superiors and subordinates just to prove how smart he is. He poaches the best staff from all the other divisions by encouraging their dissatisfactions against appraisals and uses their talents in his own division to show stellar results quarter after quarter and to shine in their reflected successes. In this unhealthy practices he is helped by a willing accomplice, Tanuja the head of HR, with whom Vikram is carrying on a long standing affair which is also mutually beneficial financially for together the two run a recruitment scam where a percentage of the cut in the referees fees from the referral recruitment agency goes to their private pockets.

And everything is hunky dory until one of the new recruits, a relationship manager named Zinaida Gomes trips up majorly in her aggressive approach to get results. She facilitates an account opening which has all the indications of being used in a foreign exchange benami transaction scam. This prompts an internal investigation into the account and surprisingly results in a few murders, with one after the other of he investigators (and employees of the bank) being bumped off by the mysterious account holders. It goes to the extent of one of the banks employees Harshita along with her husband being bumped off during a holiday in Vienna. The twin murders of tourists in safe Vienna brings in the Austrian authorities into play. They discover to their surprise that the crime is financed partly by the sale of blood diamonds from African combat zones and has all the hallmarks of a CIA financed operation.

Meanwhile in the parallel story, Krishna Menon the lone crusader of Devikulam in Kerala who has been running a strong anti-nuclear campaign against a nuclear power plant for all these years is on the verge of giving up in hopelessness when he meets the charismatic Jayakumar, who runs a NGO. Jayakumar, a man with hands in many a pie, not only pumps in cash into the movement but also brings in much needed political support. But that’s not the only thing he brings in. He deftly changes the peaceful movement into violence and destruction and the entire campaign takes a turn for the worse- horrifying the gandhian Menon. And as Menon investigates, he finds out that behind the facade of the NGO movement and the money provided by Jayakumar are hostile foreign powers which are against the nuclear advances being made by our country.

This money when traced is found to be routed through Hawala transactions (Forex Crimes) from GB2 bank neatly tying in the two different threads which are brought together in one swift climax. To read the ending, you have to buy the book. So go buy and find out whether the Bankster(s) are finally caught and get what they deserve. Or do they walk way scot free as in real life.


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