Cybercrime in real time
Being a fan of
Ravi Subramanian, I was up for reading his latest thriller ‘God is a
Gamer’ and eagerly volunteered to review it. Sadly, the book came in late just before I was leaving for a nine day trip overseas but I carried it with me and managed to squeeze in the few free moments I had while traveling to read it and review
it. I had mixed feelings reading this
book: at one level it was interesting ( I learnt a lot about the virtual world,
bitcoins , the power of social media and gaming) yet at times it was boring with a story and plot that waS convoluted and complicated making it difficult to keep track of the story.
As usual Subramanian combines his expertise in banking and knowledge of the virtual world of cyberspace ,weaving a tale of banking scams,bitcoins and on- line gaming. Garnish this with international policy, romance and intrigue and you are sure to create a fast
paced thriller that Ravi Subramian is now famous for, but somewhere down the road, the story begins to unravel.
Two CEOs of
rival international credit card companies approach a US senator to protect
their interests by interceding with the President of America who happens to be
his dear friend. Predictably this doesn’t happen and this sets the tone for the
rest of the book.
Swami, a banker
in a leading multinational bank, is asked by his mother to help her neighbour
who seems to have had Rs.27,000 mysteriously withdrawn from her bank account.
This seemingly random event alerts Swami to a phishing scam in his bank that deprives the bank of five million dollars.
phishing scam is only the tip of the iceberg that touches different lives in
different continents and opens up a Pandora’s Box, revealing secrets that go
beyond the obvious. Malvika Sehgal ,
Swami’s professional rival and contender for the job of the Governor of the RBI is furious when she finds that she is not going to become the Governor of the Reserve Bank. She is equally miffed when she finds herself bumped up as the new top dog of the bank. Half way through her birthday party she is found dead at the bottom of the building.Was it suicide or was it murder? In the course of the investigation the connection between Malvika and the Finance Minister comes to light.
In the meanwhile
in far away New York, an audacious ATM heist is being planned for large sums of
money which will be converted to bitcoins. Aditya Rao former banker turned
internet entrepreneur is also mentor to Swami . He suffers a
double whammy when the bank who had outsourced itscredit card operations to eTIOS, terminates its contract after the phishing scam. If this is not enough, his gaming company runs into rough weather when the newly launched game Townville doesn’t bring the expected revenue. But once again this cloud has a silver lining and Aditya reconnects with his long estranged son who brings the company back on track.
We meet several other characters along the way but since I don’t want to be a spoiler and ruin the story for those of you who haven’t read the book, suffice to say that this is the basic gist of the story – and you should read the book to find out the connections between all the events and the characters.
To those like
me who are still unfamiliar with social media and the virtual world,
Subramanian’s book is an introduction to the world of gaming and bitcoins –
virtual currency and virtual games that actually have a place in the real
world. The plot is a bit complicated and swings between locations and
characters with ease. The language is simple but the story loses its tightness
at some point and virtually unravels in the end as a damp squib.
At a Bloggers’
meet I attended earlier this year, Ravi Subramanian told us that a critic had trashed his book “If God was a Banker “ as a steaming pile of
manure. We all tittered when we heard this because even if the book didn’t have
Ravi laughing all the way to the bank (in his own words again, writing is not a
lucrative profession) it definitely was the novel that established him as an
author. Well, I wouldn’t go so far as to
say that this book is bad or unreadable but it is definitely not what I would
have expected from someone of Ravi’s caliber. It seems that Ravi has worked the
book backwards with his end in sight and a series of dots which he somehow
manages to connect.
The book which
begins so well, a book which gives so much insight into the unknown world of
the internet, social media and virtual currency, having all the potential of
becoming a gripping thriller deteriorates into a humdrum story of several love
stories gone bad. By the end of the book, the villain is quite apparent despite
several red herrings .
recommend this book? Sorry Ravi for being an unsupportive fan, but I would
advise reading this book with a generous pinch of salt.