Saturday, November 8, 2014

Fraudster by RV Raman : A Review

BOOK TITLE: Fraudster
ISBN: 9789350098004
GENRE: Fiction – Crime Thriller
FORMAT: Paperback
REVIEW BY: Dhivya Balaji
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: We thank Readers Cosmos for this review copy.
There are people who will do anything to silence the ones who come in their way, those who will stop at nothing, including murder.

A young banker is found dead a day after she deposes before a commission investigating large-scale financial fraud...
A doyen of corporate India falls to his death from his south Bombay flat...
A high-security server room of a multinational accounting firm is hacked and the hackers aren't looking for just company secrets...

Illicit finance, high-stakes crime and vicious manipulation come together in this story of corruption, greed and treachery among corporate India's black sheep. Arresting, fast-paced and written by an insider from the corporate world, Fraudster will keep you on your toes till the very end.
          There is a fine line of difference between a crime done for passion and a crime done for profit. While the former can be excused as done in a moment’s rage/ instability, the latter could be done only when the perpetrator has sold their soul to material profits. Most of the crimes in the world can be attributed to love (or spurned one way affection), money (as in payment for an assassin or acquisition of profits and property) or fame (fear of defamation).  What happens when money becomes the basis of all crimes? At what extent would those involved stop and pull back? Fraudster analyses this chilling concept in detail.
          A young woman banker is interrogated by a commission that looks into frauds in allocating loans. The charge is simple: the banker did not follow regulations and cross check the assets submitted as collateral while allocating a loan. The resulting catastrophe is a loss amounting to crores for the banks involved because all loans have been obtained by over valuing assets which are actually not worth the amount mentioned. The commission comes to a quick conclusion and blames the banker for negligence. But why did 26 year old Shruthi keep quiet? Who was the man who charmed her into bypassing the checking process?
          An old man with a conscience, and more than three decades of experience in banking looks into the eyes of the young banker that are waiting to reveal more than what is visible. Just when his conscience strikes he starts his own line of investigation.
          An auditor who gets pulled in deeper into the web of lies tries to find answers to the questions that went unanswered by his best friend. What could be common to these three people? All of them are murdered under one pretext or another, making each murder look like an accident/ suicide and mugging respectively. What happens when the youngsters, the friends and families of these people are caught in this quagmire of deceit? Fraudster frames this story in a 289 page thriller.
          Anyone who investigates the fraud is found dead. The police are baffled, the youngsters, Kamini, Varsha, Kunal et al are chased by bloodhounds (not literally) that would stop at nothing to make sure the secret doesn’t go out. Fraudster is a crime thriller about corporate frauds. Yes, there is crime, yes there is money, yes, there is fraud, yes, there is the ultimate reveal.
          Fraudster wins in capturing the reader’s attention because it hides nothing. The clues are placed on the white sheet, if only the reader has enough time to pause and think. There is suspense, alright, with the limelight focussing on every character (however insignificant they might seem at first) at one point in the story. Nobody is excused as perfectly honest (though that might be due to the overactive and underfed imagination of THIS particular reader/reviewer)
          Mystery lovers will love this book because the reveal makes them go ‘oh! I was close… I almost guessed it!’.
          Crime lovers will rate this book high because it has the quintessential element of cold blooded planning and execution to perfection – well, almost. There is no ‘perfect crime’. There is always one trail that leads to the perpetrator.
          Voracious readers who are looking for something different will love this book because it gives them an in depth look at the not-seen-often behind-the-scenes of the banking and the (ruthless) corporate worlds.
          The plot is relevant, and for someone who has seen reports of such crimes plastered all over the news media, this book might be an eye opener. The characters are well etched, not stereotyped (that is left to the reader – there are no shades, neither white nor black).  The book lives up to its summary. The language is lucid and interesting. It is also short and crisp.
          After the above mentioned points, what makes this book totally valuable is the author’s experience in this field. When a person is knowledgeable in a field, it shows. And clearly, the author has the backup of his experience to aid in writing this book!
          The thoroughly thrilling pace with no lags. And the story in general.
          A few inconsistencies could have been corrected. And the overall reveal could have been timed better.
VERDICT: You will regret missing this! A must read for crime lovers!
RATING: 4.3/5
Over a career spanning three decades and four continents, RV Raman advised several banks, financial institutions and corporates on various matters. He has now turned to writing fiction set in corporate India, based on his insights and observations.

Having moved away from full-time roles, he now teaches business strategy at an IIM, mentors young entrepreneurs, advises select clients and writes.

Tired of extensive physical travel around the world, he now prefers less punishing mental excursions into fictional worlds of his own creation. He lives in Chennai.
EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Digital, Paperback
PRICE: Rs. 250 for paperback

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