Breach by Amrita Chowdhury

bc1cc-23743815I received the book Breach by Amrita Chowdhury as a review copy from The BookClub and am thankful to Rubina for the same. I even got the opportunity to go to the book launch and get it autographed, I took it. This has been my longest review so far. The book is a cyber-thriller and the story moves in parallel in India, USA and China.

The Blurb:

How secure are your secrets? Weeks before Acel is ready to file the global patent application for Colare, a wonder drug for pancreatic cancer, the research data stored at its offshore data center in Mumbai goes haywire and Dr. Udai Vir Dhingra, the charismatic, Ivy-educated young leader of its Indian business, gets blamed. Battling market pressures, media leaks, livid American bosses and crumbling relationships, Vir must find the real perpetrators or see his career-and his life-spiral downwards. Swept into a shadowy world of masked online identities and muddied digital footprints, Vir discovers that nothing is easy or obvious and everything has a price. Set in Mumbai, Washington DC and Suzhou, in an online-meets-offline adventure of cyber threats and IP espionage, drug research and medical ethics, strained affairs and lost love, disillusionment and hopelessness, Breach is a clever, fast-paced thriller full of surprises.

The characters:

COLARE, the wonder drug of a giant pharmaceutical company, Acel, based in Maryland, USA, is about to be launched globally.

The Acel Biosciences team at Maryland comprises of Andrew Rudds, the head of Research;  Dr Terence Small from analytics;  Chief Scientist Dr Peter Lee, Colare is his baby, and Lara Andrews, Acel’s Chief Legal Counsel.   A person who goes by an alias, Mystic Mir, also acts as a representative for Acel. Dr Sandler is the Principal Investigator for Colare. Jake Livingstone is the Head of Security at Acel and Dean and Scott comprise the tag team.

Dr. Udai Vir Dhingra, 33, Vir, with a Bioinformatics and molecular modelling background is the youngest Country Head in Acel’s global empire. He is an Ivy League pedigree who has his trajectory mapped out, ‘Multi-millionaire by thirty and retired by forty’. He had convinced the Acel Chairman, Adam Janlowski to open the centre in Andheri, Mumbai, India. His parents live in Solan and Harry and Nikhill are his friends from Boarding school days. Dr Tracey Ward, Research Fellow in Paediatric onco immunological department at NIH Maryland is his fiancée. Diti Rajan is his ex-girlfriend, who broke up when he went abroad because she could not maintain a long distance relationship. Now she is a journalist.

The team at Acel India comprises of Delna, Vir’s secretary; Prashant Mehra is the Head, Sales and Arnab Mazumder looks after finance. Dr Amin Ali looks after the Colare R & D in India. The Acel International Data Centre at India is headed by Laxminarayanan Radhakrishnan, Rads and Pranav Verma, Peevs, is one of the programmers.

Annaswamy Cherian and Vaidyanathan are intellectual property lawyers based in Chennai.

Madhu Mishra has come from Korba to attend Junior College and tuitions and stays with her cousin Ankita Sharma and her family. She is bullied by Ankita’s friends, Raghu Damodaran and Suv. Intelligent Raghu’s secret passion is hacking and he finds a friend in Jiggs, who also shares the same passion.

Sandman works in a mobile and computer repair shop and is also a hacker. Peter Zhang is involved in the drug and human trafficking network. There are other characters like the family members, business acquaintances, colleagues, laboratory staff and other people whom they meet during the course of the story.

The story: 

Acel is on the verge of patenting a new drug ‘Colare’ but, suddenly they realize that the data centre of their Mumbai office has been hacked and Vir and his team are blamed for the BREACH putting their credibility at stake. Peevs and his team find an open port in the server and feel that the data may have been altered and they want to lay a honey trap. Things on his personal front are a nightmare, what with Diti coming back into the picture and Tracey is not finding herself at home in India when she visits Vir. To top it all, a detective agency is also hired to track a missing worker at the data centre in Mumbai. Meanwhile, Jake hires Kartik, an ethical hacker to trace the IP addresses.

In another part of Mumbai, Madhu is logging on to a website and unknown to her, someone gets access to her computer and starts taking the data from it. She gets to know that it is Suv and Raghu and decides to avenge it. Raghu, previously involved in hacking, in order to earn money becomes a suspect and Madhu is also a suspect because the IP addresses are traced to her home.

The investigation begins and so does the confusion. Everytime it looks that the mystery is solved, something else turns up giving the suspect a clean chit. So who is the main culprit? Will the mystery be ever solved?

My take:

Initially, I got a little confused with the story moving from one character to another and from one place to another, so I actually felt there were many unrelated stories going on but then this is what I did. I jotted down the names of the characters on a sheet of paper, their designations and where they stayed and then, the confusion disappeared and I was fully into the book, reading it late into the night. The chapters are short and the happenings are described simultaneously at different places on the globe. Like Ravi Subramaniam’s book, there are bitcoins in this one as well.

The author has put in a lot of research while writing the book. The story moves in the first gear for the first fifty pages or so and then takes up speed and then, it becomes unputdownable till the mystery is solved. The author has meticulously maintained the chronology of events very well giving the reader a feel of what is going on the language is simple and the author has described technical terms in simple layman language.

What I also liked about the book is that though she mentions the main plot in the first six pages and goes back fifteen days to start the story, the present is also mentioned in the main story, giving the reader a feel of continuity in the story. What she could have done was to give a small introduction to characters so that the initial confusion goes.

But it made me think, are our computers safe?

A must read thriller for everyone, and now that I have introduced the characters in my review, you will not have to make that list.

So, go ahead, read and enjoy…..

Book Source: The Book Club

Publisher: Hachette india



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