Friday, 22 August 2014

Book Review: Private India

Book Name: Private India
Author- Ashwin Sanghi & James Patterson
Publisher: Arrow Books

Ashwin Sanghi and James Patterson’s Mumbai thriller Private India got my senses excited the moment I ripped apart the package enclosing the book and disclosed the cover. With a backdrop of the famous Gateway of India and the all glamorous Taj overlooking the city and Private India screaming out in bold orange, the book proudly claims ‘It’s the season for murder in Mumbai’. But inspite of the promising start, the book felt intensely ‘Bollywood’ and a little too exaggerated at times.

The story begins in the Marine Bay Plaza where a Thai doctor is found murdered in her room with a bright yellow scarf around her neck.  Investigation agency Private India is called in to investigate the matter and therein begins a series of gruesome murders across Mumbai. A serial killer who deems fit to leave behind props as message and a yellow scarf around the neck of his victims, all his targets unsurprisingly women. Is the deranged psychopath a loner who kills only for the thrill or is he an integral part of a bigger scenario that threatens to rip apart Mumbai in its wake?

The book grips your attention as the investigation continues, unveiling mind boggling connections to weave a thriller that explores the troubled minds of both the predator and the prey. On one hand is Santosh Wagh, the chief detective of Private India, who battles his own demons to fight for a cause that threatens his own sanity and on the other, the victims whose double lives hide hideous truths that may have unknowingly endangered their own lives and those of others. The plot goes much beyond the killer to delve into the murky underworld of Mumbai where drug trafficking, bootlegging and prostitution thrive under the powerful Munna and his ally, the spiritual master Nimboo Baba. Santosh's hot protégée Nisha Gandhe, the forensic expert Mubeen, the tech wizard Hari have their own stories to tell along with the troubled cop Rupesh. But what fascinated me most from the very beginning were the strange objects that the murderer left behind with every corpse, carefully arranged to deliver a message that is both intriguing and startling at the same time. The book unquestionably delivers on its promise, keeping you hooked to the pages, but disappoints drastically in the end.

The ending is too dramatic and as I have already mentioned before-‘intensely Bollywood’. It felt like watching those highly exaggerated action sequences of films where the hero single-handedly battles the villain and his numerous goons to emerge victorious against all odds. The writers try to cramp in too much into the plot- murder, corruption, glamour, terrorism, the Mumbai underworld, religion- in short everything that is necessary to make a successful Bollywood flick and that is where the book ends up disappointing the reader. Haven’t we already had enough of those? What we want is a writer to break tradition and portray India (here Mumbai) beyond the image it has so unconsciously harboured for itself over the years. Yes, the murderer shall definitely stay etched on my mind for a while and so will the troubled Santosh Wagh. But Private India as a thriller shall fade from my memory eventually.

With the quality of books thriving in the Indian market, Private India is absolutely a notch over them and do read it for the killer shall keep you immensely entertained. I look forward to reading other books by Patterson and Sanghi for both the writers are skilled story-tellers. But ofcourse, no co-authored works please. The handling of the plot gets eventually messy when writers collaborate on books. The characters of Private India are clichéd, the storyline sloppy but one fine murderer is all it takes to make a book work!

 Verdict- A fascinating killer who keeps your senses hooked? Worth a read right?
Rating: 3/5

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!


  1. Nice post Anusree Burman :) Super liked the review.

  2. Never been a fan of Sanghi's work and this review confirmed what I was expecting of this book.

  3. Well its not that bad.. But ofcourse it all depends on the reader.. Nevertheless i'll still say it's worth a shot.. :)


Leave a comment! Would love to hear from you! :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...