With Private India, Ashwin Sanghi teams up with a UK based thrill writer James Patterson. This brings the famous Private series to India. A 450 pages long story, Private India keeps its readers engrossed. Printed in a big font, the book is divided into 116 chapters along with a prologue and an epilogue. No chapter stretches for more than 6-7 pages with a lot of them being just two pages long. This surely helps readers to stick to the book. Like most of the books in this genre, Private India also has a lot of characters. From mafias to sex workers, from politicians to pop star, it appears as if Sanghi covered almost every occupation he could think of.
Santosh Wagh is the lead character of the story. He is an exceptionally intuitive and genius investigator who works for the Indian branch of Private India, a detective agency which operates worldwide and is considered to be the best agency in this profession in India. Now murders take place to show how good these people are, at their job. Starting with Dr. Kanya Jaiyen, a Thai doctor, eight people are killed and what connects them is a yellow scarf which the killer uses as a weapon to strangle the victims. There are some props with every corpse, a DNA-less hair being common among all. They find fork, calender (with page turned to the month of July), a bucket of water and other random things which do not connect to each other in any way till Santosh finds out. The connections find their roots in the Hindu mythology and the nine forms of the Hindu Goddess, Durga. Eight murders take place before it dawns upon them the connection between the victims of the serial killer. They stop the ninth murder, after all it is one of their agents whose life is at risk.
As discussed earlier, the book is a page turner and it will make you read it till the end. Not many heavy and weird reasons are presented at any point. Although the number of characters in the story is too much, no character is alienated from the climax. Adding to it, an offstage character like Dr. Uwwano has been used and presented in the best possible manner. The main characters have disturbing pasts (nothing new there). Santosh has nightmares, Rupesh (police officer and Santosh’s friend) carries a feeling of revenge with him and so on. The writers explained every character’s past which start connecting towards the end.
A thriller looks great if it is expanded in both the direction- time and space. Private India does justice to this without any fault. The vastness of Mumbai has been explored creatively and strategically. Colaba, Taj Hotel, Haji Ali, Bandra suburbs, Chowpatty (that’s how it is spelt in the book), Andheri, Thane, Arthur Road Jail; every landmark is explained in its original form, unlike most of the books which focus only on poverty and filth.
The pasts of the characters builds up a story but who wants to know how every member of the team got recruited in the agency? Most of the things don’t make any sense there and it all appears to be forced.
If you are an Indian and watch CID (a TV show), you know that most of the criminals are those who are given the least attention. This thing repeats here. However, Sanghi cunningly discussed the gender of criminal at a point, which takes away the doubt which builds in the reader’s mind. This would have been acceptable and highly praised if the reasoning behind everything was much better than sex change (I mean, seriously he couldn’t think of anything more logical?).
Santosh Wagh is often seen explaining things to his colleagues but the inclusion of the ‘Thugee cult’ is useless, because it doesn’t connect with the story.
If you are expecting some good and brilliant quotes and prose from this text, this is not for you however the book does tell you about the dons in Mumbai (who supposedly wear many gold chains and rings). It is a yes-yes for one time read but a no-no for revision. Simple language doesn’t allow anything to slip from the reader’s mind. Even though the climax could have been better, this story is suitable as a plot for an audio-video movie.
I give this book 3 points out of 5.