Saturday, 31 March 2012

Book Review: The Newsroom Mafia by Oswald Pereira

The fourth estate is supposed to be a force for good, acting as a check on the other three estates, the legislature, executive and judiciary. However, when corruption has seeped into the three official organs of the Indian government, should the media be any different?

Veteran journalist Oswald Pereira’s novel the Newsroom Mafia is a thriller which pits a police chief, Supercop Donald Fernandez (aka Don) against Mumbai’s underworld don, Narayan Swamy. As the deadly fight unfolds, we get to see the nasty underbelly of journalism, one where many journalists are either on the payroll of the mafia don or are working for the glorification of the Supercop. In any event, unbiased journalism and factual reporting are in definite short supply.

Narayan Swamy has a number of allies, some of whom are leading politicians and journalists. Clever lawyers, accountants and stock brokers working for the mafia don make sure that he is able to build up a ‘clean’ business empire which runs parallel to the criminal one. Supercop Don, who reminded me of retired IPS officer Julio Rebeiro, too has a few good men on his side, such as his able assistant Rane and the narrator Oscar Pinto who is a reporter who works for The Newsroom, India’s most prestigious and reputed newspaper. Oscar Pinto is always hungry for scoops and thirsty for large pegs.

One of the best things about the Newsroom Mafia is that none of the characters are entirely good or entirely bad. Even mafia don Swamy has a good and charitable side to him just as the good cops have their weaknesses. The narrator is not your regular hero – in addition to a weakness for spirits of the bottled variety, Oscar Pinto commits a massive goof-up right at the beginning of the novel, one which seriously tarnishes the reputation of The Newsroom.

Like any good thriller, the Newsroom Mafia does not suffer from a lack of steamy scenes. The very attractive Stella Kutty, yet another bent journalist, takes care of that and more than one good man succumbs to her charms.

On the flip side, at times I found Pereira’s writing style a bit ‘flat’ at times, with ‘telling’ more than ‘showing’, which can take its toll since the novel runs to almost 260 pages. An easy read in a single sitting, the Newsroom Mafia definitely ain’t. However, because Pereira keeps the suspense rolling and because the reader is always kept guessing, the pages do keep turning.

The ending was at a tangent and tone very different from what I had expected. I will not divulge more and risk spoiling the story for you. Do please read this exciting thriller for yourself and find out more.

No comments: