Quick blurb from the author’s website
A university is an institution for higher education and research. It can also be a place where academic brilliance leads to overinflated egos, bitter politics and finally, murder. Cirisha Narayanan, a professor who has risen meteorically stumbles upon a cryptic message. Aditya Raisinghania, her banker husband, sets up a highly innovative financial hoax. Her profiteering father harvests Australia’s largest bird—the emu—in India. The US elections are on and the debate on gun control has reached a fever pitch.
Set in Mumbai, Coimbatore and Boston, Ravi Subramanian creates an impeccably researched world where everyone has a motive to kill. Nothing is as it seems in this cunningly vicious thriller where the plot turns on a dime.
By now all readers of Indian writing must be familiar with Ravi Subramanian’s plot setting, the financial services industry. However, with Bankerupt, the author delivers quite the googly with the additional settings of academia and also throws in some elements of the anti-gun control lobby in the USA as well. For fans of this author this is a triple whammy of sorts, more so because true to his style, Ravi has researched the other two fields quite well and manages to educate readers adequately on the nitty-gritty’s of the lives of research scholars quite well by making it an integral part of the plot of this book.
Cirisha Narayanan is a research scholar working at MIT, Boston and keeps flying back and forth between Boston and Mumbai where her husband, Aditya Raisinghania is an investment banker at Greater Boston Bank (GB2). And although their personalities are quite divergent, Cirisha being someone who believes strongly in the truth, integrity and uncompromising on these topics and Aditya being someone who is an aggressive ‘will-do-anything to be successful’ type of chap, they fall in love and get married to each other. While the usual travails of a long distance relationship does take its toll, more on Aditya than Cirisha, they still manage to retain some of their old romance in the marriage.
Events take a wrong turn when Aditya happens to bump into Shivinder Singh, his batchmate from B School and currently CEO of a footwear company in India. One thing leads to another and in the matter of a few months Aditya, of his own accord and due to his ambitious plans of making a quick buck ends up in a fairly complicated financial web of lies, deceit and fraudulent practices. As is the norm with this books, the author manages to explain in fairly simple terms how Aditya and Shivinder manage to beat the system and make a few bucks on the side. Running in parallel with this story line is the story of Narayanan, Cirisha’s retired father who is running an emu breeding business down south in Coimbatore. How Aditya ends up using this business also to his advantage forms a smaller part of the book.
In the meantime back in MIT, Cirisha’s guide Michael Cordozo refuses to take on a research assignment on behalf of the National Rifles Association as it clashes with his liberal outlook of being pro-gun control. However, when a fellow professor and his stated rival, James Deahl takes up the grant and the research assignment, this begins a proxy war of sorts between the two professors and their research associates. Being an integral part of Cordozo’s team, Cirisha gets drawn into this rivalry and her friend Richard Avendon is on the other side, actually performing research related tasks for James Deahl. Through the eyes of Cirisha and Richard, the author presents a fairly detailed view of the lives of research scholars and this part of the book provides a quick elementary education into how academia functions, at least in the US.
Somewhere around the middle of the book, the two worlds of financial services and academia kind of intersect and what follows is a fast paced execution of the rest of the plot. Events keep unfolding one after the other and they bring out the best and the worst of almost all the characters in the book. And the book draws to a nice conclusion with a lovely unanticipated twist right at the very end.
Suffice to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the book, especially the parts about the academia and the lives of research scholars. One complaint I have from the book is that at times I felt that the plot was somewhat contrived to force the intersection of the financial services industry and academia. And the inclusion of the emu farming angle and the gun control angle also seemed a little contrived. Having said that I am taking nothing away from the book, as I said before, it is a thoroughly enjoyable read nevertheless.
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|Publisher||Penguin Books India|