I recall the excitement with which I read Ravi Subramanian’s debut novel, “If God Was A Banker.” It won for him the Golden Quill Readers’ Choice Award in 2008 and we knew a promising writer had made his mark in India. After that he has written several books, largely centered around an environment he knows best, multinational banking with all its diverse facets. He is, after all, a graduate of the prestigious Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore and worked in big name global banks for two decades or more.
In “God Is A Gamer” Subramanian explores today’s world ‘s subjects with his story covering contemporary issues such as the use of bitcoins, the almost addictive and huge draw of gaming for millions the world over , the power that politicians command be it in the United States or in India, and the high-tech maneuvers used to pull off heists of mind-boggling size.
A mystery surrounds the assassination of Senator Gillian Tan, known to be a close confidant of the President of the United States of America, ( the name, I must confess, threw me as I have always known “Gillian” to be a woman’s name, and this “Gillian” turned out to be a man, and one with a king-sized libido), while elsewhere in far away Goa, over 120 people largely unruly Nigerians are arrested for drug running and creating mayhem, among them happens to be an Indian, Varun Rao. Varun is the long-lost son of an influential business leader and entrepreneur, Aditya Rao who rushes to bail him out. Varun with his fresh ideas, which are at times controversial, shakes up his father’s organisation and sets a scorching pace of growth. He falls in love with Tanya who is the daughter of his father’s friend, a socialite CEO called Malvika Sehgal who dies under mysterious circumstances. Rumors suggest the possible involvement of the country’s Finance Minister, no less. The FBI by way of Agents Scott and Tony are after the killers of Senator Tan and they chase many leads that take them from New York, to Washington DC and finally to Mumbai.
Considering the book is published by Penguin, I thought the editing could have been of a higher standard. A line reads, ” A strenuous job as the head of retail banking at New York International Bank kept him away from his wonderful family- two beautiful daughters, adoring wife Kalpana, his mother and their Labrador.” Shouldn’t it read, “……his mother, and their Labrador”? There were a few other things I noticed but these apart the book was eminently readable.
The author deftly handles the many characters and sub-plots within the main plot and writes with a confident ease about subjects which have been researched excellently. The story has an impactful start but limps after that with a lot of technical explanations about bitcoins and the technological advances that make it easy for crooks to make money- and for the cops to catch them. Fortunately, it picks up speed around the middle and when the characters come into play after all the stage setting, it is an exciting read till the unexpected climax. Subramanian has worked hard on the plot and it is one of the many strong points of the book.