Title: Riding the Demon
Author: Murali Raghavan
Publisher: One Point Six Technologies
Genre: Crime, Thriller
First Publication: 2022
Book Summary: Riding the Demon by Murali Raghavan
Young, smart, once with a promising career before him, Vikram is in jail in Chennai. He stands accused of defrauding over ten crore rupees from Bharat Bank, where he worked in the IT department. Though he insists on his innocence, the evidence is stacked against him, and Vikram appears doomed to spend the best years of his life in prison – unless he agrees to a strange request from a lawyer representing an anonymous client.
Trapped in jail with no possibility of release, Vikram agrees, only to fall back into the world of corporate espionage and government corruption and intrigues, a run on a bank, and murder.
Ashwini, an investigative financial reporter, tumbles upon methods used to circumvent the rules imposed by the Reserve Bank of India during India’s demonetization.
Vikram crosses paths with Ashwini in his quest to expose the web of corruption between people with mountains of money to hide and the unethical ways they invent to hide it.
But Ashwini’s true investigation is into the man known as “Guruji” – a fellow inmate and possibly Vikram’s only friend from his time in jail – whom she believes to be the cause of her sister’s death.
Can Vikram swim against these murky tides to secure his freedom – from jail and from his benevolent blackmailer’s clutches? Will Ashwini ever discover what really happened to her sister? And what is Guruji’s dark secret, that seems to hold the key to many mysteries?
Book Review: Riding the Demon by Murali Raghavan
Murali Raghavan’s Riding the Demon tells the story of a systemic corruption so pervasive and so well disguised that it continues for years and includes many crooks who have escaped law enforcement, killers, and heaps of filthy cash. It all began with corruption charges against Vikram. As an employee of the information technology department of Bharat Bank, Vikram has a bright future ahead of him professionally. However, not long after that, he was arrested on suspicion of stealing more than 10 crore rupees from the bank, and he is now being held in custody in Chennai.
As his trial approaches, he has little to no chance since the evidence is so strongly against him. Vikram maintains his sanity despite the mountain of evidence pointing in the other direction, and it looks like he will spend the most productive times of his life behind bars. However, things may turn out differently if he complies with a peculiar demand from a lawyer representing an unknown client. During the course of Vikram’s investigation into the nexus of corruption that exists among those who have large amounts of cash to conceal and the unscrupulous methods they develop to achieve it, he comes into contact with Ashwini.
As an investigative journalist for a financial publication, Ashwini discovers ways that people are getting around the restrictions set by the Reserve Bank of India following the country’s demonetization. However, the real focus of Ashwini’s research is on a fellow prisoner who goes by the name “Guruji” and whom she considers to be the person most responsible for her sister’s death. Vikram’s only companion during his time spent behind bars is perhaps Guruji. The deeper Vikram digs, the more dangerous the situation gets and it becomes clear that someone wants to silence his investigation.
The first few pages of Riding the Demon were difficult for me to read, but I believe this is due to the complexity of the subject matter being examined rather than writing. Murali Raghavan uses a wonderful cast of characters from many walks of life to flavour his story effectively. The story flowed well, and the narrative did not drag. Mr. Raghavan’s entertaining and informative overview of the inner workings of a variety of subjects, such as the corrupt government and financial system, the powers of political authority, and judicial wrongdoing, is likely to keep readers engaged and intrigued and motivate them to explore more about these fascinating matters. Moreover, the readers are sure to be glued to the edge of their seats as they try to piece together the clues and will be fascinated by the enormity of the grandiose corruption and conspiracy scheme they are exposed to.
The plot is cleverly constructed with judicial corruption and organised crime at its center; the characters are complicated and very well developed. The story evokes every feeling that one would come to anticipate in a judicial crime thriller, and more besides. Corruption, with a few other twists thrown in, makes for a rollercoaster ride as you unpeel all the layers so intricately fashioned. Murali Raghavan delivered a solid and intriguing story in Riding the Demon with plenty of excitement to keep you buried deep in the pages.