There is an expectation when a novel comes with a tagline “India’s No.1 Thriller Writer”. Ravi Subramanian’s novels usually deliver on that expectation, and when I got the book from Blog Adda, I was quite delighted to note that it was a signed copy.
“God is a Gamer” was the title, and it interested me more because this is the first time the novel had no banking aspect in the title itself. The ones I have seen/read before have had that. “Bankster”, “If God was a Banker”… yeah, most of his books do have that. But the blurb and the start of the novel ensure that banking does play a part, and a significant one at that.
Head honchos of Mastercard and Visa take the help of an American politician to prevent the loss of their revenues in the Russian market. Later, when the American government is under threat from an online company, the politician asks the head honchos to return the favor and block that company from receiving online payments. These events set off others, seemingly unconnected and end up in the use of “bitcoins” – virtual money. Years later, that same politician is assassinated. Is it related? Adrian Scott is assigned to investigate there.
From Washington, the action shifts to India. The prime minister is headed to the US for treatment. The head of New York International Bank, Swami comes to know of a phishing scam that’s compromising multiple accounts. His boss, Malvika, offers him no help at all, and instead pushes the blame on Swami in front of the Singapore chief. When he sees things going against him, he turns to Aditya, an ex-employee of the bank for solace. Aditya now runs a small-time gaming company. On another front, Tanya and Varun run into each other at Goa, the former in town for a NASSCOM event. They run into each other again later, under very different circumstances. How are all these threads connected?
The first thing I liked was the cover. It was nicely designed. The story, even with multiple characters, maintains a decent pace to keep the reader engaged. With an assassination to begin with, it doesn’t surprise that that happens. The curiosity to know who the killer is, it keeps that sub-story going well. However, the immediate shift of setting somewhat diffuses the enthusiasm of a whodunit at that point. There are very few technical jargons involved; none that pull you down anyways. The short chapters keep the read crisp, and help the pace.
The short chapters, while keeping the read crisp, end up confusing the reader. One moment you are reading about the assassination in Washington, the next you are in India, and then back again. With two settings, it’d have been good if both were given narration at a length, and then switched. The short chapters also end up leaving the characters uninteresting because there wasn’t enough in each chapter for the reader to “connect with”. The twists, other than at the start, feel unbelievable and like they were there because one had to happen, not that it needed to happen. It was said to be the first bitcoin thriller, but there were very few mentions of bitcoins, and it felt lost.
While it has the characteristics of a Ravi Subramanian thriller, it’s not as good as it could have been. A one-time read at best; recommended for 3 or 4 hour journey.
Title: God is a Gamer
Author: Ravi Subramanian
Genre: Bitcoin Thriller/ Crime Thriller
Publisher: Penguin Books
Price: Rs. 299
(24th October 2014)