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Book Review: Scammed
Dissent: Volume 6 of the Helter Skelter Anthology of New Writing

Book Review: Scammed

From anguish and perplexity to heartache and giddy joy, Ahmed Faiyaz has been able to trap the many shades of human emotion within his books. His past novels have been fairly well-received by audiences in India, but I’m sure readers who are familiar with the author are wondering: does Scammed: Confessions of a Confused Accountant live up to his previous work?

Helter Skelter: Scammed
Scammed book cover.

The novel seemed to show great promise as I flipped past the cover, preparing myself for a much-anticipated read. However, the opening chapter of the book doesn’t quite reel you in. The protagonist is introduced as Hitesh Shah, and readers get a brief glimpse into what life is like for him as an accountant, working to the bone to get his share of the spotlight. Little does he know how his life is about to change—he is about to go from being a boring, single, and confused accountant, to an undaunted, appealing, and successful entrepreneur. The story picks up momentum when another accountant who works in the same firm Smith & Kline reveals to Hitesh how four men in particular have been making money clandestinely from a company they work for (Supreme Motors), where the auditing paperwork reveals a startling amount of sordid details.

Supreme Motors is an automobile company that has been active over the span of three generations of a family, but is now facing a bump in the road that could possibly run it out of business soon. The company is run by Venugopal Reddy, who’s the next of kin to take charge of its reins. Adamant to reveal all, Hitesh approaches Reddy about the four men in question. Unforgiving in his approach, Reddy severs ties with those who prove to be a liability, although keeping the ones he knows he will need to help rebuild the already crumbling company as a result of their sleaziness.

The venomous foursome bite back as the plot thickens, in a way that is both unexpected and crippling for the new venture that stemmed to save Supreme Motors, and for its many new employees nationwide. The flow of the story seems to be at a standstill at first, gathering speed as it progresses, and hitting potholes occasionally that tend to confuse readers. You may find yourself rereading paragraphs, or backtracking to previous pages in an attempt to catch up with who’s who in the story (it becomes quite exhausting).

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The character outlines that make up the four scheming villains occupy the entire middle and end of the book in a well-portrayed lineup, bringing to life in your mind’s eye the worst there is among the vermin of the business world. Hitesh’s two lady-loves—the former dreamy old college classmate, and the latter doe-eyed beauty—both add a spurt of colour to some of the dull sequences in the book.

The novel’s core plot is quite intriguing, although Ahmed Faiyaz seems to be better at dealing with themes of quotidian life and the woes of the common man (or woman). The author seems rushed in his approach to fit in a ton of details into one book, hoping that the reader gets what he’s trying to convey in terms of accounting talk (which by the way, not all of us get). In its entirety, the book is gripping, if not engrossing, and it could use a dash or two of dramatic deliverance and the unexpected. Scammed may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’d recommend giving the book a read, especially for those who are looking for an uncomplicated, light, suspense-spun tale.

[Grey Oak/Westland; ISBN 9789381626061]
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