Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Review of "The Bankster" by Ravi Subramanian....

I received this book from Blogadda under their Book Reviews Program.

Published by Rupa , and 358 pages in length, it was an unexpected delight to get an author autographed copy of Bankster.  The cover calls the author, Ravi Subramanian, the John Grisham of banking.

As a person who actually had a bank account at 10 tears of age, when withdrawing Rs 10 was considered excessive, I have always been skeptical of the banking industry ever since  some parts of it decided to become posh. 50 years of banking has taught me, that we remember best those who give excellent service as a bank, everything else be damned.  This is the story of a bank, the Greater Boston Global Bank (GB2), and the functioning and work ethos therein.

It is linked  in some way, with blood diamonds in Angola, an NGO  involved in a nuclear protest in Kerala, unscrupulous politicians (sigh),  puzzling killing of bank employees in places as diverse as  the Eastern Express Highway in Mumbai the old Vashi Thane Creek Bridge in Mumbai, and a street in Vienna, Austria.

A simple switch of an account by a client from another bank to GB2,  so many bending over backwards to service the account  given the large balances, rewards for those who fall in line. A lovely depiction of the sort pf personalities one often encounters in a bank,  old style, staid, sticklers for rules, easily swayable types, folks who have no qualms  about committing crimes, be they commercial or moral, folks who hanker after the good life at all costs.  The story also indicates the vigilance section in banks, and how their work is conducted.

The Kerala  NGO agitation against the nuclear power plant, the tenuous links with dyed-in-the-evil-wool politicians playing double games, international compulsions, all these actually depict what is happening today.

Personalities and episodes described in Vienna  remind you a bit about an  Hercule Poirotean  ethos, and the general efficiency and pride taken in such work there.

The author has described his characters very well.  I have almost met all such types in my more than 50 years of tangling with banks.

I have met the dedicated Raymond, the sincere organized Harshita,  the page 3 style Zinaida ,  the I-have-all-the-answers-nothing-is-impossible Tanuja,  the super efficient Jacqueline,  the lady Chairperson Indrani, who is where she is because she has a fine understanding of who must investigate what, and the silent minority that simply gets on with the work, thinking everything their superiors are doing is ethically correct.

I've heard of sincere rural folk like Krishna, politicians and their relatives  who give NGO's a bad name, tentacles spread across the country dipping into various tills. 

The author weaves it all in, as if it all belongs.  He even throws in IT technology.  Buying of arms from countries, and despotic African rulers controlling diamond mines, and buying arms.

You nod your head in satisfaction, or shake your head in disapproval, smirk mentally to say "I told you so" , and  delight yourself to bits,  as the story emerges, every now and then, accelerating  on a fast expressway, after taking a few diversions.

The conclusion is stunning.    And deftly introduced.

You would have never imagined, that,  that could be the case 

The story is very tightly woven,  no rambling, or suddenly going into history.  The suspense is maintained just enough, for you to rub that sleep out of your eyes, and continue with the remaining pages.     

This is a wonderful book and I would give it a rating of 4/5. Go read it .  

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


  1. Hello Surangaji,
    Visiting here after a long while...I'm glad you liked this book. However, I burnt my fingers with this author's "If God was a Banker" and swore never to read him again. It was terrible. Maybe you'll help me revert my decision.

  2. :) SO many good reviews about this book, its seems blogadda has sent this book to all the bloggers I know , EXCEPT me :) he he he he


  3. Sounds really interesting. Something tells me the banking industry is the same all over the world.