Ashwin Sanghi, James Patterson collaborate on ‘Private India’

Posted Sep 4, 2014 by Sravanth Verma
Indian writer Ashwin Sanghi and bestselling author James Patterson collaborate on a new book, "Private India," which revolves around an alcoholic private eye trying to bring a serial killer to book.
India Gate  Delhi.
India Gate, Delhi.
The story begins with train bombings in the city of Mumbai, which are followed by a murder in a resort. Former cop Santosh Wagh is head of security at the resort, and is called in to investigate the crime. More murders follow soon enough, and the killer deliberately leaves behind clues — a single strand of hair and a yellow scarf that was used to strangulate the victims, who are all female.
Wagh has to figure if these are red herrings or the work of some religious fanatic. The book weaves together two sub-plots, one focusing on the serial murders and another revolving around another planned terrorist bombing in Mumbai.
The book is being marketed by Random House India as a mass-market, fast-paced thriller, and that's exactly what it is. Most of the elements you would expect from a mass-market book are present: the down-and-out hero battling his demons, drugs and sex, criminal masterminds and so on. But the book only holds together up to a certain point. As it trundles towards its climax, it sort of loses its punch and turns into a damp squib.
Random House India
Sanghi also attempts to sprinkle a bit of profundity and moments of reflection in the book. Many social issues, from prostitution and politics to films and transsexualism are touched upon over the course of the plot, but none of them are really explored in any satisfying detail, leaving the reader to wonder why the story diverged in these directions in the first place.
That said, the book is a satisfying read, if you don't expect anything other than a fun read. It is a bit of a tome at 450-plus pages in small font, but it is a page-turner and shouldn't take too long to get done.
Published in India last month, and releasing in the United States next year, the book is Sanghi and Patterson's first joint work. Sanghi enjoyed working with Patterson, a prolific author whose books have sold over 300 million copies. "I thoroughly enjoyed writing it. This particular story has elements of mythology and history, but at the core it is a modern whodunit. The chance to work on a page-turner with JP was very exciting. JP was very open to the idea of my plotting the story and writing the first draft. The second and third drafts were written by him."
Like Patterson, Sanghi is also known for his fast-paced plots, such as the one in his previous book on Chanakya, the ancient Indian political strategist. Patterson states that the collaboration was a positive experience. "I have always tried to work with writers who will give a truly authentic feel to that city," he said. "Ashwin, too, is a fan of a fast-paced plot, and with his broad historical and mythological knowledge, there could be no better writing partner."