I had enjoyed "The Bankster" by the same author and so looked forward to reading this one.
As in previous books, this one too, involves a bank. It also introduces one to something called Bitcoins, which is like international virtual currency, and this concept is really the heart of this novel. The people who introduced these, the people who manage these, and the people who misuse these range far and wide across countries, banks, government, universities, investigative agencies, fundamentalists and so on , ranging internationally across Washington DC, New York, Mumbai and Delhi. Phishing, which is something that we all know is one of the side effects of doing things online, is also a major part of the narrative.
The story revolves around a huge cast of characters. In India and the US.
A lady CEO of a leading bank, Malavika, and another senior functionary , Swami of the same bank, who cannot stand her and suspects her of being involved in unsavoury money transactions, and secret personal alliances. The lady CEO's daughter, Tanya, who really comes across as someone who thinks she is playing her cards so well. Then there is a person, Aditya, who is no longer with the bank and is the head of the biggest BPO in India, and is assisted by a person called Sundeep , who seems to be a bit of old-style. Then there is Varun, Aditya's son, who suddenly appears from a jail in Goa, and takes over the BPO company successfully . For some reason, he seems to know Tanya from before, and it is only towards the end that we learn why.
In the US, we have the President himself, and his Chief of Staff , Mike. Predictably, a Senator too, Gillian Tan along with his wife Nikki, and a daughter Gloria with surprising antecedents. Then there are agents of the CBI/FBI, Adrian/Tony, and a clever old hand Dan Malloy who always comes up with smart solutions.
As if to link these folks , we have a fellow called Josh, who has evolved from an earlier avatar in India, dabbled in all kinds of things and dicey folks, and currently is in the US, as the Sysad of a site specialising in drugs, pornography, and similar things, all paid for in Bitcoins, in a way, that the transactions are untraceable.
The novel revolves around bank phishing attempts in India , and ATM heists using cloned credit cards in new York, causing losses of millions of dollars in the US and in the aforementioned Bank in India. The BPO, which creates and does business in computer games, finds itself facing losses, and is conveniently taken over by Varun, who has lots of ideas up his sleeve that involve, things like Facebook.
There are murders, presumed suicides, supposedly corrupt ministers, ambitious upper rung institutional folks in government, the mandatory Mumbai police.
Somewhere, one gets the feeling that there are too many characters. The novel though proceeds at a brisk pace, across continents, maintaining high reader interest. The chapters in the book, are small in size, and very nicely edited. The book maintains reader interest throughout, and despite gaming, and bitcoins and such stuff being of minimum interest to me personally, I found it enjoyable.
And yet, as a person, who grew up thinking games were something you played physically for recreation , and still think, computers are being misused for mindless games, I am unable to figure out where God came into this.
God is NOT a Gamer. He just helplessly watches them play......
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