Book Review: Private India by Ashwin Sanghi and James Patterson

Things that came to my mind after finishing Private India? Engrossing? Extremely. Can be made into a Bollywood movie? Definitely!

‘Private India’ is the fruition of the collaboration between Ashwin Sanghi, an Indian author known for combining mythology and thriller, and James Patterson, an American author known for bestseller series’ of which ‘Private’ is one. Their unique collaboration results in bringing the popular ‘Private’ series to India. So, it naturally raises the curiosity and interest in the book.

Private is considered one of the finest private investigation agencies having its branches all across the globe. We have Private L.A., Private London, Private Berlin and now we have our very own Private India – the hi-tech investigative agency operating from a dilapidated, nondescript building.

Private India – The Story

The story is set in Mumbai, where a series of murders are taking place within a span of a few days. Though, apparently the murders might seem unconnected, however, a connection can be established with the similar chilling murder ritual and strange objects that are carefully arranged with the victims.

Santosh Wagh, head of Private India, is in charge of solving the cases and nab the murderer before striking again. But, wait, he soon realizes that along with the murderer there is another, even bigger danger that needs to be stopped at any circumstances. Santosh Wagh is bestowed with impeccable reasoning powers, a sharp mind and is a treasure trove of trivia. However, he is yet to come to terms with his tragic past which makes him reach out for a drink when not required. So in order to solve the mysteries lying in front of him, he also needs to win the battle with his inner self. How will he now catch the murderer, will he be able to abort the larger threat and how – read it to know!

To aide Santosh Wagh with his investigations, there is Nisha Gandhe, an attractive ex-cop turned Private India investigator, Mubeen, the medical expert sharing an equally tragic past as Santosh Wagh and Hari, the technology geek. James Morgan who heads ‘Private’ is also an integral part of the story. There are a number of other characters throughout the book and they are quite well developed. They are not thrust upon the storyline – that is the best part.

My Views

Private India is a fast-paced thriller with a lot of ‘Indianness’ in it. The story is not limited to the serial murder mystery. It has a lot of stories to tell – background of the main characters, the victims, the killer, all are written with utmost precision. As with all murder mysteries, you will definitely start with the guessing game once you start reading the book. You might or might not be able to guess the killer – but you’ll be hooked to the book.

I don’t know why but I feel the book has everything which can be made into a nice movie. With a lot of stories unfolding, involving the Police, the Judicial system, Bollywood, celebrities, reporters, prostitution, politics, corruption, gang lord, Godman – it has all the ingredients of a good Whodunit movie.

Generally, when we read a murder mystery we tend to overlook the ‘literary’ aspect of the book. Ashwin Sanghi is known for his historical and mythological thriller and James Patterson for his graphical and riveting mysteries. In Private India, both the authors have drawn together their qualities with subtlety. I loved the way in which Mumbai is described in one the initial chapters of the book – Mumbai with all its inherent contradictions, in only a single paragraph. What I also liked about the book was the extract on how the investigative agency ‘Private’ started, at the end of the book. For someone who has not read the Private series earlier, it will be useful as well as enticing.

The book has some minor flaws, a few mistakes here and there and at times you might also feel the murders are done too easily. In my opinion, however, we can overlook those foibles and enjoy an action-packed and spine-chilling murder mystery.

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