Salil Desai is one of those authors who wrote more than 5 books. It is a kind of a benchmark. He is known for Police Procedural knowledge and he writes in quite an effective manner. When I got a chance to have an interview with Arun K. Nair, the author of two books Murderous Greed and Mr. Cool Detective: What went wrong?, when asked for his favorite authors he named Salil Desai as one of them. It shows not only the popularity of Salil but also reflects the quality of his writing as well.
Quick links to reviews for Inspector Saralkar Series:
And, you can read our Author Interview with Salil Desai at:
So, when we came across the announcement Salil’s new book, The Sane Psychopath, we’ve made up our minds to read it for sure. Fortunately, I got a chance to read the book from our team and here are my unbiased views and reviews for the same.
|The Sane Psychopath
|Fingerprint Publishing; Published: 1 September 2018)
|# of Pages
|# of Chapters
Let us take a look at the cover page of the book:
As you can see, the cover page has a dark red background and an eye is focused. The distorted line “Psychopath” in the title gives a reflection of unbalanced mind. Overall, the cover tries reflecting the book title (and the story explored) in an effective manner. So, if not outstanding it can be considered as moderately good.
Let us take a bird’s eye view of the story.
This Is Here In For You
Shanker Lande is a bus driver working in Maharashtra, India. His life is not different than most of the lower middle-class fellows who life presents the problems and miseries as a regular gift. When going to Pune during a trip, he had hallucinations. An unknown person insists on him taking the bus to the valley below! At a specific point of time, he sees a buffalo standing in the middle of the road, and he tried to avoid it by taking a sharp turn. However, no other person saw the buffalo he mentioned. Govind Patole, his conductor friend tried to console him.
Shanker is a person don’t like to get into a fight, not even when he has a point! Life is miserable though, and when you want to avoid something, it comes looking for you! He got into an unwanted fight with a car driver and he was beaten badly. He has even more problems waiting for him. He needs to reach back to his native village, as next day some government officials are coming there to analyse his farm and the loss of corps he had, to decide the possible compensation he can get from the government. So, he went to meet the controller. When he calmly came out of the office, shutting the door nicely behind him, no one could have imagined what he is going to do next.
He took a bus from the workshop and… Well, he did something least expected from him. What he did and how it affected many lives is better to explore in the rest of the story. We meet Constable Bhagwat, a youth named Gautam and his parents and most importantly advocate Varun and his girlfriend Sanjana. Varun and Sanjana are going to be married in 2 months and somehow their marriage plans also come under a threat due to what happened on the roads of Pune.
Writing a psychological thriller is not an easy job. Actually, writing a book or even a short story is not an easy job for the matter of fact. While people often struggle in drafting a one-page email with proper words, creating an imaginative world with fictional characters and incidents in a convincing manner is quite a tough job. It requires hard work and skills and any author who is able to pen down something significant must be appreciated for the same. So, would it be wrong to just give a few stars to the book and declaring it good or bad? Well, a reader who pays for the book with his/her money and most importantly the time, has a right to share his/her experience. The only thing that needs to be cared about is, it must be unbiased and genuine. It then helps other readers to make their purchase or reading decisions. And, a genuine feedback helps the author also. Nothing in the world is perfect and there is always a scope to make it better. Most of the authors thus take the books reviews positively.
It was a thin storyline and the base of the book was just a concept spread across two pages only, when it was decided by Salil to explore it as a full-fledged book. It took him several years in completing this book due to various reasons and he has shared his journey in the book.
Reading the book reminded me of reading Dan Brown book where he builds and builds and builds the things and suddenly an end comes to it! This book also could have been better. Especially towards the climax. Before last 15-20 pages you will think something is coming as a shocking incident or action and you feel slightly disappointed. Possibly, my expectations from the book were higher but I strongly believe that the last few chapters could have been better, especially before the climax.
The page quality of the book is also not that good. Especially the back of the chapter starting page reflects the impression of the drawing on the other side of the same. Here is an example.
I like the way Salil describe the scenes, actually I wanted to quote the first two paragraphs of the first chapter of the book, but would rather insist you to read them in the book itself. The starting point itself will give the idea of the quality writing you can expect ahead. Here is a line from the same, effectively describing the hot summer time.
The bus was an oven on the move, packed to capacity, baking its inmates.
Salil himself is a good analyst of human behavior and psyche. The following line explores the feelings most of educated (in a real sense) and wise fellows find reflecting their thoughts.
There was something about Varun Gupte that rubbed many people the wrong way. Perhaps it was his inability to make mindless small talk or mix with others…
The book has its dose of sarcasm and punchlines which I’ve really enjoyed. Here are some examples which almost everyone can relate to.
News channel knew better than anyone else how to milk victim stories.
—– —– —– —– —–
TV news mirrored the concerns but did what it did best – turn it into an amateur inquisition.
—– —– —– —– —–
If it weren’t for the fact that tea comprised boiled water and boiled milk, which probably took care of all germs, no one would’ve dared drink from the canteen cups.
The attitude most of us having towards life is reflected in the book quite well. Let me share an example:
To Sanjana life was a simple affair – restricted only to what was happening in hers.
Don’t you think most of us live our life like this? Whenever we read news about a tragedy, for example, we think “oh, this is something really pathetic, but it cannot happen to me!” Same way, when someone achieves a very special goal in life, we admire it but do not hink that if putting the right efforts we can also achieve similar goals.
The indoor scenes are explored pretty well, maybe the author’s expertise as a screenplay writer plays its part here 🙂
Sanjana shut the book she was reading and glanced at Varun. He was a picture of concentration, sitting at his worktable, immersed in documents.
The book has some hard-hitting punchlines which are realistic yet philosophical at the same time:
It was for men to differentiate and make one form of death more tragic than the other. Life itself didn’t discriminate.
The attitude of most of the two-wheeler drivers is reflected in interesting lines where sarcasm and advise both are weaved fantastically:
Sure, riding without a helmet was risky but like smoking, people had a right to taking a risk, so long as it was confined to themselves only.
Those who face problems cannot find the words of condolences enough to get rid of their grief. Actually, some of the things cannot be felt unless happened to us. Emotions and feelings of a family who lost its precious member doing heroic work is represented effectively in a simple line.
Pride didn’t plug the gaping hole of love and loss.
There are different kinds of people seen living around us. Some of them are introverts and some extroverts. Some tall and some short, some fair and some dar,… the list can go on and on right? In the same arena, we find some of the people quite adorable and others may not be up to our frequency of likability. However, we also see some people are mixed with anyone. The author discusses various personalities through the emotions of a character on meeting another.
Shanker Lande wasn’t a likeable man. Varun wondered how Govind Patole had stood him. Perhaps it was because the conductor was the kind of person who had the rare ability not to dislike anybody and like everybody.
Who can think of such a nice analogy of a person and a place’ relationship? Simply brilliant.
He did not enjoy that kind of a relationship with any house he had lived i. He had not made them his own. They, in turn, had not made him theirs.
I found the following block in the book quite interesting and informative both. It represents a detailed study in a summarized manner.
The human mind had a remarkable capacity for self-deception as well as to manipulate others. It knew exactly how to cast itself as a victim to justify whatever the self did. Self-preservation was wire into the human brain, even when it embarked on a course of self-destruction.
A human mind is definitely something beyond imagination. It is not always possible to find out the truth or analyze a course of actions. Sometimes, it creates a world illusions on its own. Most of the serial killers are having disbalance in their thought process and understanding it is quite difficult. Though, we keep raising children by giving them the right advice, education, and teaching; some of them seem to be overpowered by the surroundings and rising influence of wrongdoers, and possibly it leads them to drive into the wrong direction. The protagonist in the book tries to find out whether the criminal is sane or insane, knowing the fact that he (the criminal, of course) is a psychopath. And the reader enjoys the ride. The book is strictly for (mentally) adult readers.
The author comes with a small yet effective phrase in the book:
Sometimes words conveyed too little.
The characters are well explored. Different shades of Shanker’s character are explored very effectively. The courtroom scenes are a delight to read. The way Varun was approached for the first time in the court after taking the matter in hand will remind you of some such incident(s) which rocked the media. And, yes, the author took a jibe to various news milking strategies used by the media. The way, the paanwala explain the things to Varun, is also an interesting yet realistic scene. The political aspects of tragic incidents are explored realistically. Actually, we can talk about many such scenes in the book, but then it may not be spoiler-free, and I am trying to not to reveal any of the key incidents/aspects of the book, and discussion about some of the characters in the book is intentionally avoided.
In terms of the flow, the story sails smoothly with proper speed. It doesn’t have many bumps. Definitely not the best by the author but a small and gripping read for sure.
The book remains true to its genre “psychological thriller”.
The book is a nice thriller where psyche and legal aspects are explored nicely. If you enjoy reading books in this genre, this book is definitely a good choice. The book, of course, has its letdowns but you can ignore them for the overall reading experience it offers.
Around 7.5 stars out of 10.
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