I had been meaning to catch up on Ravi Subramanian’s books ever since I read and liked his debut novel “If God was a Banker” and therefore when the opportunity presented itself, I immediately borrowed his three novels from somebody very close to me and have finished the first one of the lot “Devil in Pinstripes”.
And true to his reputation, the author didn’t disappoint me. Through the eyes of Amit Sharma, a smart IIM-B graduate and somebody who is recruited by Aditya Bhatnagar (future India CEO) into New York International Bank, the author takes us into the offices of an international bank operating out of India and more specifically into the Consumer Loans division of the bank.
The first few chapters of the book deals with how Amit’s career forces his wife Chanda to abandon her dreams of a career in the biotechnology field and how she ultimately ends up in the same financial services industry where Amit is working in. How situations and circumstances force the fate of their careers to be intertwined with each other forms the crux of the first half of the book, which also deals with the toll their professional lives has on their personal lives. In dealing with the complex web of corporate politics, and guided by his mentor Aditya, how Amit slowly learns the tricks of the trade are described by the author in his own inimitable style where he cleverly places the plot of the novel right at the intersection of the main protagonist’s personal and professional life.
The story picks up quite a bit of pace in the second half where the murky world of lending, collections, credit, recovery and other jargons of the Loans business are brought forth to the forefront of the action and full credit must be given to the author for simplifying each and every one of these terms in a manner which is educative and at the same time, not condescending to readers who are already aware of the internals of this particular industry. After all, Ravi Subramanian is not given the moniker “John Grisham of the banking world” for nothing, is he?
The last 20 odd pages of the book provide a fitting climax to the plot and the happenings reach a logical conclusion where the main protagonist “comes of age” so to speak and manages to pull off quite a sensational coup and this is where the author ends off the book on a ‘high’. The last 4 pages in particular stand out in particular and will remain with readers for quite some time after they have finished this book. That, to me, is the hallmark of a really good author.
Don’t miss the cameo appearance of the author himself in the book, on page 228, a-la Alfred Hitchcock. This is the first time I have ever read a book in which the author presents himself as a character, and that was something I found quite endearing.
In a nutshell, read the Devil in Pinstripes if you are a fan of Ravi Subramanian or are looking for a book which is not too heavy on the senses or if you are interested in the nitty-gritty of the everyday workings of a Consumer Loan institution from the inside or if you want to read the journey of a man who learns the tricks of his trade in his career to pull off a sensational coup. One way or the other this book has all the ingredients required for a relatively fast-paced read.
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