Bankers build their careers on trust, or so everyone thinks, till a series of murders threaten to destroy the reputation that the Greater Boston Global Bank (GB2) has built over the years. Who is behind these killings, and what is their motive? Is the banker at GB2 turning into a bankster? Or was he always one?
When Karan Panjabi, press reporter and ex-banker, digs deeper, he realizes that he has stumbled upon a global conspiracy with far reaching ramifications a secret that could not only destroy the bank but also cast a shadow on the entire nation. With only thirty-six hours at his disposal, he must fight the clock and trust no one if he is to stay alive and uncover the truth.
“Yet another book from an IIM alumnus” I thought when I heard about this book for the first time. “Apparently one needs a master’s degree worth several lakhs to become a published author these days!!” was another annoying thread of thought running through my mind. To add to the ideas about the book were my misgivings about the slightly vague excerpt from the back of the book, but the frequent likes by a friend on Facebook about the various promotions regarding the book and the unique name “The Bankster” (I should say I have never heard this term before nor thought of a banker being a gangster) inspired me to apply for a review copy.
I read past the prologue – I still felt kind of vague. Then I read about 2 chapters; I was intrigued!! By the time I finished the book I was truly impressed! Who would think that some of the stuff that goes down inside a bank would have connections to isolated incidents concerning blood diamonds in Africa and the fight against nuclear weapons in India. This is one of those rare books where the excerpt on the back of the book does not impress much, but the actual contents do more than deliver!
When employees of GB2 start dying under mysterious circumstances, it is anybodies guess as to what might be going on. But when a straight forward compliance officer, Raymond starts digging into the case and discovers shocking facts of fraudulent transactions, he ends up dead on the docks outside Mumbai with a suicide note conveniently tucked inside his pocket. What did he know that cost him his life?
When ex-banker and Raymond’s mentor Karan, who gave up his banking career to become a journalist picks up the clues, the CEO of GB2, Indrani is faced with some rude truths about her senior management and their capability to snuff lives out of innocents to protect themselves and their interests. The facts throw her into a state of nervousness as these discoveries could rock the banking giant out of business once the media gets involved. She hires Karan to get to the bottom of the mess at GB2 opening up a can of worms, leading to shocking revelations about the top tiers of the organizations pyramid. What this team discovers towards the end of the book is something that nobody would expect – at least not a reader like me!
It seemed like I was caught up in a parallel world; a world where only numbers matter; a world where managers do anything to meet these numbers – be it dirty sales techniques or brushing aside compliance processes. A world with questionable HR hiring practices and scams that involve the creme de la creme of senior management and finally a world where ethics seem to take a back seat. Every character in this book could be someone you would have met, if you have worked in a corporate – not necessarily Financial or Banking firm.
For those in the corporate world of banking and financing and even those that work in an IT industry as a part of the Financial and banking domain will no longer feel the same way about its top management! Though this may not come as a surprise to most, the author has done well to bring out some of the muck when it comes to hiring, firing, appraisal, normalization and cover ups in any organization…I can see most of you smiling already but honestly the author has made it seem like the HR adds no value to an organization!!
Honesty, power, greed, lust, sycophancy and more figure throughout the book as the battle between what is good or rather what seems to be good vs everything that seems wrong with this world and in particular our culture takes front seat! The book was a true page turner and had me hooked until the end. I finished it within a day. The author has woven an edge of the seat thriller by combining his knowledge of banking practices and experiences in the banking industry along with other social causes. A truly wining combination. The cover of the book claims that the author “Ravi Subramaniam” to be the John Grisham of Banking and I truly agree.
Who can you trust if not your banker? Well just read this book and you will never feel the same about your bank or personal banker again! The climax is something that not many can guess or predict but one thing is for sure – you will never feel the same about smooth talking dynamic men in suits nor impeccably dressed women who seem to have it all together!
And if you are wondering about the connections to blood diamonds and nuclear weapons that I mentioned in the beginning, do read this amazing book to find out! Trust me it is worth it!! I wish I could lay my hands on the other books by this author!!