|Private India. James Patterson and Ashwin Sanghi.|
Before I launch in a full-blown review, let me get some numbers out of the way. I mean the ratings.
Readability: 3.5 on 5
Suspense: 2 on 5 (I could guess the killer moment the character was first introduced)
Storyline / Plot: 4 on 5
Overall: 3.5 on 5
One line verdict: A good one-time read. However the story, the characters, the plots won’t really stay with you after you’ve read the book.
Before the review, lets try to make a recipe for a bestseller in the crime / thriller category.
- Step 1. Take one potion underdog hero who is battling with his personal demons and alcohol (or drug) addiction.
- Step 2. Throw in a bunch of loyalists who would stand by the hero through the thick or thin.
- Step 3. Add atleast two people who think that the hero is a bag full of shit and is better cornered into a remand home or something.
- Step 4. Finally, create a villain who has a personal vendetta against someone really really famous. Step 5. And then let the villain plan, plot, execute, run from the hero, to eventually get caught by the hero, only to turn tables in the climax, before tables turn one more time to give the hero the upper edge.
- Step 6. Of course, once the dish is ready, as per the taste, sprinkle some steamy scenes, sidekicks (for the hero, the heroine and the villain) and personal histories of all characters.
Private India follows this recipe down to a T. Except the steamy love scenes. Wonder why did they leave it out.
Anyhow, coming to the story, the lovely city of Mumbai is rocked by a series of murders. Each victim is a famous personality with a vague connection to the Bollywood. On each crime site, a series of clues is left alongside each victim and its upto our righteous, know-it-all Private Detective to solve the mystery of the clues. And prevent the serial killer from going on a spree. And ofcourse catch the killer.
There are a couple of side plots as well. Purely to distract us, the readers, from the main story. And to give the book a larger theme per se. But I’d say, the side plot is so weak that they could’ve totally left it out.
So, while the unknown assailant is merrily killing people, the hero is trying to catch up with the killer and the side-plot is trying to confuse us, lessons in history happen and we suddenly reach the end of the story! That ways, the story flows smooth. Very smooth. I wish I could write like that.
Coming to the good bits.
- Each chapter is less than 1000 words. Some are even less than 500. So it makes for a very very easy read.
- The story has been penned really nicely. Its very readable. Clearly the book has been written for people who probably are new readers.
- One of those fast, pacy reads where story doesn’t drag at all. The kinds that you can read in one sitting if you are on a beach or on a holiday.
And the not-so-good bits
Despite both of them being very very popular authors, this is the first James Patterson or Ashwin Sanghi that I am reading. And honestly, I expected better. From whatever I have heard, Ashwin Sanghi’s strength is digging up history (or mythology etc) and coming up with interesting takes and twists on those. At least my friends have made me believe so. Private India is nothing like that.
And James Patterson is like the grand-daddy of writing (and thrillers) and each his book is expected to be a page-turner and unputdownable. As a struggling author, its one of my dreams to be able to write as well as him. This one, however, is not really up there.
May be its a case of over-promise and under-delivery?
In the end
Like I said, its a good one-time read. Perfect for a holiday or a vacation. Reading Private India is like watching one of those mindless action flicks where you sit through the film and you enjoy the violence, without applying your brain. And when the movie over, even though you don’t recall what or why, but you know that you had a good time watching it.
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P.P.S.: I don’t make any money from these reviews / posts.
Originally published on SG’s Personal Blog.