Monday, November 05, 2012

Book Review: The Bankster – Ravi Subramanian

Edited to add: This review post has been selected by blogadda as one of the top reviews that have come in for the book 'The Bankster'.!!!

This is my second book review for BlogAdda after the hugely successful The Krishna Key by Ashwin Sanghi. I finished the book in two days flat during a working week.

The Bankster starts off on an interesting premise. A man – Joseph Braganza – is about to obtain diamonds in exchange for arms at a remote location in Angola, South Africa. From there, the story moves to Devikulam, a place near Thekkady, Kerala, where Krishna Menon and his wife Sulochana run a home-stay. Finally, we enter the Head Office of Greater Boston Global Bank at Mumbai; where we are introduced to its myriad characters – Vikram, Tanuja , Nikhil, Anand, Harshita, Zinaida, Pranesh, Raymond, etc.

The story keeps moving from Kerala to Mumbai to Israel to Vienna. The best part about the book is the fact that the author is an ex-banker and, thus, is able to lend certain credibility to the entire banking and branch banking working set-up. Right from the very basic operations of opening an account to the very complicated compliance audits and how management handles the same, Ravi explains each of them in great detail.

With his words, he paints a realistic picture of the branch working and we are transported to an actual branch and can imagine the events happening right in front of our eyes.

What starts off as an innocuous task of opening a current account which is one of the basic operations in any bank soon takes on a dangerous overtone. Without revealing too much, I shall only say that the book links together such seemingly unrelated topics as blood diamonds, nuclear power plant and a current account opened at one of the bank’s branches which attract the attention of the Compliance team of the bank due to large value transactions. However, the alerts raised by Compliance are muted by Management, leading Raymond (the Compliance Head) to retort, “Why does business always take priority over compliance?”

One of the big surprises, for me personally, was the fact that our very own Cafe Coffee Day played a big part in the book, eventually helping to reveal the culprits. The surprise, however, is that the CCD was not located anywhere in India but at Vienna. Harshita, along with her husband Siddhartha, while on a personal vacation to Vienna, come across certain clues while sipping coffee at CCD, which play an instrumental part in cracking the entire case.

To crack the case, Karan Panjabi and his protégé Kavya are entrusted the seemingly impossible task of cracking open the entire case in three days flat. And, that too, without attracting the attention of anybody in the Head Office. How they go about doing that piecing the various clues strewn all over the place forms the climax of the book.

The book is an absolute financial thriller and a page-turner for sure. Ravi’s lucid writing style and his prose peppered with various banking phrases make the read even more enjoyable. The various twists and turns in the book take you on a roller-coaster ride and, at the end, you are literally left stunned and shocked at the revelation.

Pick up The Bankster immediately and read it when you can. You won’t regret it! It will open your eyes to the ways and means of the banking brigade; a community in which we place our immense trust. Personally, for me, the book was an even gripping read because I work in a private sector bank and can relate to the various trials and tribulations faced by the various characters in the book!

All in all, an excellent book by the author whom The Wall Street Journal calls the John Grisham of banking!!!!!

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at . Participate now to get free books!

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