Thursday, 5 January 2017

Ticking Times by Pattabhi Ram – Book Review

Publisher’s write-up:

‘MIKE MAHI DARES TO BE DIFFERENT. Not for him the well-trodden path of his ancestors, their small lives lived out in the confines of a colliery. He dreams of getting into a larger world, of being in a profession that commands respect, chartered accountancy, and his struggle to rise to its topmost echelons.

It is the story of Mahi's courageous leap into an unfamiliar world and his tumultuous relationship with the celebrated journalist Tejas Arya, his college mate and fellow Intern. A tale of two idolized icons - with their human frailties and professional rivalries...

One night, it all threatens to come crashing down. In a rogue bank that Mahi audits, there are charges of incompetence, insider trading and misconduct against him. The case moves to the court.

WILL MAHI COME OUT UNSCATHED? Or will a high profile career built up so painstakingly, collapse? Can Mahi look to Tejas for support in his hour of need? Or, will the journalist in Tejas ditch his long-time friend for a hot story?’

Ticking Times is a novel written by the first time author Pattabhi Ram (at least, for fiction) and the plot is set in the little world of the audit profession. Even though I normally don’t disclose my prior association with the authors in my reviews, I would have to disclose it here to bring it in context for; I was interested in reading this book since I was one of the authors students, myself.

The plot moves across different timelines and it begins in the present day, where the now successful Chartered Accountant Mike Mahi is listening to breaking news, where a major client of his is caught in a financial scandal amounting to Rs. 500 million. Then it goes on to say how Mike managed to climb the ladder from his humble origins as son of a colliery worker and going to become the President of the regulatory body of Chartered Accountants. On the other side is the prolific journalist, Tejas Arya, Mike’s rival since college days; who is exposing the scandal.  The story moves back and forth in time, explaining how Mike built his empire and the tangled web he is stuck in between as a result.

I found a lot of things the author touched upon to be interesting; such as the audit procedure and techniques mainly because I was able to relate to it. I also felt that it is commendable that the author took considerable efforts to reach out to as many people as possible by explaining each of the technical details in a verbose manner, be it on derivative trading or audit procedure.

However, I would have to say that despite his efforts, it is likely to cater only to those in the same profession as that of the author as; in order to make it readable for everyone, the author very often ended up quoting auditing standards and concepts of financial management that I was beginning to feel that I was reading for an exam. Apart from that, I also felt that the author really had no concrete story to tell, he started on a high, by breaking the financial scandal but later, it shifted to the past of the two main characters and it went on for so long that the readers might forget that Mike was caught in a scandal. Moreover, the author talks about how Mike was a well-known figure to the extent that most people know about him even though, in reality, I have hardly known a president of a regulatory body known to a sundry passer-by. Ultimately, I wouldn’t want to comment on the verdict of the court on the financial scandal but I would say this much that I found it a little unrealistic.

To sum it up, it is good effort, considering it is the first published fiction of the author and I would definitely look forward to more. To comment on this book, I would say that this book would probably appeal only to Chartered Accountants and aspiring Chartered Accountants. I would award the book a rating of four on ten.

Rating – 4/10




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