Despite being an Indian, I have always been wary of reading thrillers, or murder mysteries written by Indian English writers. Some of the books which I tried reading were a complete turn off just because they were trying to emulate the western thriller writers. The common knowledge that the sensibilities of India are different from the West was shockingly lacking in many of them.
Nevertheless to say, Pakistani Writer Sabyn Jhaveri’s thriller‘Nobody killed her’ changed my perception. She has written a beautiful thriller with her country Pakistan as its backdrop. It’s not difficult for an Indian to understand that backdrop and stories with a South Asian background.
For years, I have been longing to read a book with Indian backdrop and a story just like ‘ Samay - When the time strikes’, one of the best crime thriller movies, I have seen starring ex- Miss Universe Sushmita Sen.
The starting chapters of this book reminded me of Samay, though both are entirely different and unique in their own way.
I chose ‘Private India’ book for two particular reasons - firstly, no doubt, the name James Patterson and secondly the backdrop of the book - Mumbai. The book was co-written by Indian thriller author Ashwin Sanghi and it was one of the books in Private India series. Honestly speaking, I have never read a book by Sanghi before, though I have seen him interviewed thriller writers like Dan Brown- yes! I acknowledge that it’s a huge mistake from my side. That’s why I started reading his
“ Chanakya Chant”.
To my surprise, the book was unputdownable. I knew Patterson’s style of writing. But the writing style of the author of this book was not similar to his previous books. Perhaps, that made me read the whole book as an Ashwin Sanghi book. I was not wrong in my assumption as I learnt that the plot belonged to Sanghi when I went through the articles about the duo signing a deal.
It all began when a plastic surgeon from Thailand was murdered in a hotel and the Private India - the Indian branch of an investigative agency started by ex-CIA Jack Morgan had to plunge into the investigation as the organization was also in charge of the hotel’s security. Within a matter of hours, the dead bodies of women started piling up in different parts of Mumbai. The yellow scarves using which the victims were strangled were enough proof that the murders were being committed by a single person.
The Indian touch was added to the story when each of the victims was found with certain props which indicated the nine avatars of Goddess Durga.
Sanghi says the story was a response to the misogyny which has become so prominent after the gruesome Delhi Gangrape. But when you delve into the story, there’s much more. Who is responsible for misogyny? Is it just the repercussion of a patriarchal society? Are Men alone responsible for that?
I have read somewhere that even crime thrillers can highlight certain issues plaguing the society and ‘How’ was my question. I think this book was an answer to that.
Ashwin Sanghi, who has never written a contemporary thriller prior to this, but thrillers based on mythological and historical settings have efficiently made use of his knowledge here and has not gone overboard. The props placed around every victim and a reference to the Thugee cult existed in India were an example for that. Santhosh Wagh, the man in charge of Private India knew that there will be eight more killings. Cain the murderer, complete that circle? Will the Private India be able to prevent the murderer? There’s a tempo all throughout the book. But somewhere while reaching the end of the story that the tempo was found slackening. That could have been avoided.
I also like the character ‘Nisha’ who is an agent in Private India. Her character consoled the reader in me who always wanted the main protagonist to be a woman (though I am trying to come out of that self -made rule).
As I already said, the book was set in Mumbai, the commercial capital of India and one of the most happening cities in the world.
When the collaboration was announced, Patterson said, "With its vibrant and chaotic cities, and rich history and heritage there could be no better place to set Private’s next adventure than India. And in Ashwin Sanghi, with his wide historical knowledge and his love of a fast-paced plot, there could be no better writing partner."
Though I have a high opinion of the book, I have certain questions. There’s is a tendency in many of the novels to portray the main detective as depressed owing to his personal grief. Don't you think there should be more Holmes or a Poirot unlike Suresh Wagh of Private India? Besides, why the detectives are not married or in a relationship? Is it because the author/authors want to alienate them from the mundane thing so that, they could give more importance to the investigation.
The book is a turning point as it has made me explore the crime thriller novels from South Asia.
Ashwin Sanghi ranks among India’s highest selling English fiction authors. He has written several bestsellers (The Rozabal Line, Chanakya’s Chant, The Krishna Key and The Sialkot Saga). In addition, he has co-authored a New York Times bestselling crime thriller with James Patterson called Private India (followed by another in the series called Private Delhi). Included by Forbes India in their Celebrity 100 and winner of the Crossword Popular Choice, Ashwin also co-writes the 13 Steps series of self-help books (13 Steps to Bloody Good Luck and 13 Steps to Bloody Good Wealth) to be followed by several other titles in the series. Scroll down to see Ashwin’s journey from an avid reader to a New York Times Best Selling Author. ( Source: http://www.sanghi.in/)