Monday, 1 September 2014

Book Review: Private India

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Book Review: Private India

In Mumbai, the festive season of Navratri sees seemingly unconnected women killed by a psychopath. Detective Santosh Wagh, the head of Private India, and his team (ex-CID Nisha, tech expert Hari and forensic expert Mubeen) find themselves in the middle of all this, trying to nab the miscreant before he completes the series of murders on the ninth and final day of Navratri.

The Prologue of the novel mentions about the 7/11 attacks on Mumbai for which Indian Mujahideen, a terrorist outfit based in India, was the prime suspect. The novel goes on to depict another such planning to avenge the missions foiled by Private India. In the first part, the novel slowly submerges into the killing of the women and ultimately conjoins the two plots at the end.  Alongside Santosh and his team the novel brings in several supporting characters like the famous Jack Morgan (ex-marine and the boss at Private Agency) Rupesh Desai (Assistant Commissioner of Police and erstwhile a very good friend of Santosh), Munna (the dominating gang-lord of Mumbai) and Nimboo baba (the self-styled godman).

The novel commences with the murder of Dr. Jaiyen at a hotel which employs Private India as their ‘advisor’, which effectively brings in the protagonist to the middle of all the mess that follows. Next to be killed is a journalist, Bhavna Choksi.  Soon the killer starts killing high-profile women (the Chief Justice of Mumbai high court, a politician and a singing sensation) and the pressure mounts up on the investigating team of Private India. The notorious killer leaves behind different props with every murder and it is only after the fifth murder that Santosh is able to crack what exactly the props mean. There are tortuous twists and turns which leaves you with more than one theories to solve the murder until you arrive at the climax.


The best part of the book was the ability of the author to make you visualize the scenes he’s describing.  The author describes the fine details of the scenes which breathes life into the story. You find yourself trying to make connections as new information is methodically unveiled. The reference to the Hindu Goddes Durga has been aptly done throughout the book, be it about her nine avatars or about the yellow cotton scarf and the thugee tribe.

Small stuff like the quirky introduction of the characters, quiescent enough not to affect the seriousness but still managing to squeeze out a giggle, makes this novel very likeable- “Mubeen was Private India’s full time medical examiner. Time of death, cause of death, manner of death- death was his speciality”. There is a fair amount of terse one-liners used in the novel which makes you appreciate the intelligence and adroitness of their usage by the writer. “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”

The first person speech used for the killer is a masterstroke. Not only it enhances the enigma of the killer but it also augments the depressing mania surrounding him.


There are a few grammatical and spelling errors which is not at all expected from such a reputed publication. Apart from that the second part of the novel seems to lose a bit of pace. There is an intricate weaving of the plots which sometimes leaves the reader wanting a bit of simplicity because some of the plots seem unnecessary. The book has two climaxes and it should have been avoided as the second climax leaves you wanting more and seems insufficient.

Overall verdict-

The author reveals just enough to keep you at the edge of your seat. From the very description of the first murder, the author successfully develops an intrigue in the reader’s mind. The book is a very good read and I finished it within a day of receiving it. My overall rating would be 4/5.

Details -

Title             : 
Private India
Author        : Ashwin Sanghi & James Patterson
Publishers : Arrow Books
Genre           : Fiction ( Crime Thriller)

ISBN 9780099586395


  1.'ve become a critic :)
    Nice review...unbiased & honest ..