James Peterson is a paperback mass production unit. I had read his first major novel Along Came a Spider, which was well written and reasonably good murder mystery featuring a troubled detective. These days he brings out variety of paperback bestsellers co-written with several other writers. Aswin Sanghi is an Indian writer specialized in writing mythological thrillers. Now they have collaborated to bring Private India, a murder mystery set in Mumbai. The expectations were very high when two men who know the trade join hands.
The novel starts with the murder of a Thai doctor in Mumbai. Very soon more bodies start piling up. After every murder the dead bodies were arranged in a peculiar manner. Santosh Wagh, Indian head of Private, an investigation agency headed by former CIA Jack Morgan, and his team starts investigation of seemingly unconnected murders. Soon all kind of trouble befell on investigators- corrupt cops, dangerous underworld dons, a Pakistani attempt to annihilate them and above all a smart serial killer who always seems one step ahead.
The winning point of Private India is its incredible pace. I finished the 400 plus paged book in just two sittings. Plot marches on very fast and while reading you tend to ignore most of the flaws. But once we are done with it, the euphoria subside and we look back to it, we realize that what we read was actually a checklist of serial killer clichés. The characters of antagonist and protagonist are done to death. Even the settings and thrills are nothing new. Mythological angle of the murders give some variety to the plot, but even then it is skin deep. Reader never gets a takeaway from it.
Private India is fine for a quick read on a lazy holiday. You will be lightly entertained if the expectations are kept rock bottom.