Book Review: ‘Where Angels Prey’

Corporate greed and white collar crime are two types — one played within the board room and the other played outside, betraying the trust of innocent people. This book is of the second type, covering the crimes that involve the high and the mighty over the down and out populace of rural India.

Ramesh Arunachalam’s ‘Where Angels Prey’ is a story that covers the explosion of MFI’s in the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, a state in India, and their exploitation of the trusting and innocent rural power of the state.

This is my second review of the genre of ‘corporate and white collar crime’. The first one is here.

Title and Cover:

First the title attracts us, because it is contradicting. It reflects the nature of the story — story drawn from real events in India. Angels, the champions of altruism, prey on the innocence of the victims, the poor of rural India. The title is poetic and captures the essence of the story.

Green Tea, book and laptop — A Sunday sojourn

The cover is a superimposition of a brooding, suited man over a set of hutments and agriculture lands, reflecting the storyline.

Plot Summary:

I quote the book blurb, as it is the most directive narrative of the plot.

Where Angels Prey is a rip roaring piece of (crime) fiction that travels from New York to India via many countries. At the very core, it is a story of extreme greed on the part of a few to amass a huge fortune. The plot in Where Angels Prey has a whole gamut of characters, each of whom is an important link in the chain of events that lead to this massive global crime. And what is interesting is that, this UNIQUE and gripping plot is presented with all the twists and turns you would find in a commercial film screenplay almost.

While the rest of the world reels under a severe financial crisis, Wall Street pours huge money into India to help its poor — a somewhat strange happening indeed. Intrigued, Robert Bradlee, senior correspondent with The New York Post, sets off to investigate, along with his journalist friend, Chandresh. Little does he know that his search for a scoop would lead him through a complex multi-pronged web of deceit, fraud, manipulation and financial crime, remote controlled from distant lands by an entire chain of financial sector stakeholders.

Flow and Style:

The flow is lucid and the style is simple. Ramesh focuses on the story so much that the scenes pass by fast. For a crime genre, there is no twist in the tale, but the end packs the punch.

The characters jump, in and out. Priya, for example. She is Bob’s fiance, but turns that she drops out as soon as Bob heads to India. The building of character is strong and set out high expectations. She is from Andhra, a purposeful setting, but the relevance is lost as the plot moves forward.

The fire at the SAMMAAN office is another point that could stab and twist into the plot, but see that too passing, as the story stays the course.

The plot moves in a straight line, and the characters don’t have shades of grey. It is easy to know that Prasad Kamineni and his uncle Nageshwara Reddy are the villains, and the administration — MR, Vishal, and that diminutive Veena Mehra are straightforward do-gooders. Bob and Chandresh don’t face much threats in unveiling the information. The plot, is therefore, light and predictable.

Yet, the fact that DevEx and SAMMAAN are back after a few months, that too with a banking license is the twist that breaks Chandresh, the Indian journalist and Robert, his NY Post counterpart.

The deep understanding of how Governments, Private Equity Investors, Wall Street mandarins, MFI’s, Maoists, Government employees, collection and recovery agents work, and how the rural people struggle between the need for money and the costly and coercive sources is intricately covered through the story line.

There is one place — Chapter 8, where the story pauses and that is when I really enjoyed Ramesh’s writing. It is the place Chandresh interacts with an old ex-Maoist at the tea shop in Paderu. The scene setting, the characters sizing each other up, their conversation and parting is a great piece of fiction writing.

In short:

If you are crime lover, lower your expectations. If you love to understand the MFI scandal in Andhra, India under one roof, this is a good pick.

~Ashok Subramanian



A poetic mind. Imagines characters, plots. Loves Philosophy, Literature and Science. Poetry-Short Stories-Novels- Poetry Reviews-Book Reviews

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Ashok Subramanian

A poetic mind. Imagines characters, plots. Loves Philosophy, Literature and Science. Poetry-Short Stories-Novels- Poetry Reviews-Book Reviews