“Private India” by Ashwin Sanghi & James Patterson

There’s a high you get on reading a well written thriller. I experienced this recently when I finished with, “Private India” written by the famous Indian author, Ashwin Sanghi, in collaboration with one who is perhaps the best known thriller writer in the world today, James Patterson. I have no idea about the extent of the collaboration. Is it really Sanghi’s book co-branded with the more famous name of Patterson or is Patterson reaching out to Indian audiences with stories with a distinctly Indian milieu which can best be described by an Indian writer like Sanghi? Whatever the equation it works well, I am sure, for both of them.

Now to the story: Santosh Wagle is the Mumbai head of Private India reputedly the best private investigation agency in the world. It’s head is Jack Morgan a former CIA agent who is as sharp as they come. The agency, which seems to be well clued in with the Mumbai Police, is called in to investigate a murder which takes place in a Mumbai hotel.  The victim is a foreign woman. Wagle and his team, comprising his assistant, the enterprising Nisha Gandhe, his forensics expert Mubeen and his geek wizard, Hari, find a few things intriguing about this murder. It looks as if the killer deliberately has left some clues to make them sit up and think. Not surprisingly, this murder is soon followed by another, and then one more, followed by one in a most unexpected place. Clearly they have a serial killer on their hands. One who believes in offering them a clue each time he or she make a kill. Wagle feels as if the killer is mocking at them, laughing at their inability to crack the clues which could reveal his/her identity.

You tend to relate to the characters in the book starting from Wagle who is battling his weakness for alcohol after a disaster that killed his wife and child. Mumbai, as everyone knows, is home to the richest and the poorest who live life on their own terms in a city which is famous for fostering more rags to riches stories that any place else. Sanghi has captured the ethos of the city with it’s glass and glitz as well it’s ubiquitous slums, each with their gangs and warlords. Also hovering around are the politicians who know where to find the muscle whenever some dirty work is called for.

The book is fast paced and like in any good thriller, the reader zones in on possible killers amongst the characters that are in the story. You feel it could well be X until the next murder when you realize that it is more likely to be Y! The best is saved till the end. I am, obviously not going to spoil the story by revealing just who the killer is.

Highly recommended for all who like a fast paced yarn.

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