Two Real Murders for Virtual Money.


god is a gamer

I got this mail from Blogadda, telling me that they were sending a book for reviewing. The next ten days the book does not turn up. While at Crosswords, I actually saw the cover it looked like a silhouette of Sherlock homes gazing at the White house. God Is a Gamer by Ravi Subramanian, ISBN 978-0-143-42139-9 published by Penguin books.

The book is a thriller based on banks-BPO’s and internet games. Though the focus is Bitcoins, the virtual money. If older thriller writers and investigative heroes followed the money trail, here the money trail is virtual making it more nebulous.

The author claimed to be a banker by day and writer at night. IIM credentials, call me prejudiced but this combination has me sceptic.  Moreover it was as if I was looking at the river Ganga and its many tributaries waiting to merge into a single river.

I mean here was a stream talking about a banking fraud in India, involving A BPO, a finance minister and geographically located in Mumbai India.

The other stream was about a US senator being killed in a so called terrorist activity. It is sometimes this and sometimes that; eventually I used two bookmarks to keep track of the flows until they merged.

Well coming back to my sceptic well the author thankfully proved me wrong. The writing style very restrained, and elegant. Murders very underplayed this kept the focus on the investigation and the cyber world.

The story revolves round two deaths, one of Malavika Sehgal the head of an Indian bank, slotted to be the next RBI chief, and the other of Gillian Tan an US Senator.

Malavika is involved with Aditya who heads a BPO along with Sudeep and swami. The BPO works with financial institution and their online security.  While Gillian Tan is pushing for the legalization of Bitcoins the virtual currency.  An ATM heist and routers in Ukraine siphoning the virtual money which can incidentally be changed for real money. Not to mention a Middle Eastern terrorist group and anonymous online drug dealers.

Are some familiar references, like the Zygna games (online pests).  The confession of a Hooker sounds fairly familiar. All are woven well into the plot to lead the FBI and CBI teams on a wild chase.

Somehow the trio of Aditya-Sudeep and Swami particularly swami comes across to me as a whining loser than risk taking entrepreneurs. To cast add Varun the estranged son of Aditya who is romantically involved with Tanya Stanford graduate daughter of Malavika. Nikki Tan the wife of Gillian Tan, Gloria their daughter and Mike Hendrix Gillian’s political rival.

However there are some glitches like the hemlock it would have shown up in the postmartum toxic reports. The appearance of the FBI investigator is so abrupt it was as if the inputs introducing him were chopped off at the editing table.

This is just a suggestion but the supposed conversations among US citizens at times are transliteration of Hindi. A simple suggestion maybe it will work, write it Queen’s English and translate to American on Google.

Over all a good read, I really like the even pace, elegant present lulling the reader into “the butler did it” diagnosis and the first twist occurs, by the time we get comfortable with the first twist, the second and the whammy the third. The storyline presentation particularly the end where very systematically the author ties the loose ends had faint shadow of “the endless night” by Agatha Christie.

Do pick your copy of God is Gamer if you are techno-savvy, tech-addicted or like me just love a whodunit. By the way Mr. Subramanian I am glad I do not have a PayPal account nor do I do online banking.

About the author:Bombay based  Alumnus of IIM Bangalore. Banker by day and  writer by night.  can be contacted at info@ravisubramanian.in, or http://www.ravisubramanian.in, twitter handle @subramanianravi. facebook page http://www.facebook.com/authorraavisubramanian

The Book is complimentary from BlogAdda for reviewing.

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