15 January, 2019

#BookReview :: The Sane Psychopath by Salil Desai

*** Special Feature - January 2019 ***

About the Book:

Are some crimes unpardonable? 
A young lawyer is about to find out. 
It was just another day in Pune. Just another morning. 
Until a man decided otherwise. 
And left an entire city horrified . . . scared . . . angry . . . baying for blood. 

This is the story of Shanker Lande, driver of a state transport bus, who goes on a bone-chilling hour-long rampage on the streets of Pune—killing 10, maiming 70, and damaging over 100 vehicles, before he is captured. 

In this case of Shanker Lande vs the city of Pune, the difference between the criminal and the victims is clear as night and day. But a young idealistic lawyer, Varun Gupte, a Punekar, still decides to defend Lande. And in the process seeks help from a psychiatrist, a man who lost his son to the same incident. 

Caught in the pincer grip of their dilemmas, do the two men crumble? Do they unearth the truth? And does the truth absolve Lande?

Inspired by a real incident, The Sane Psychopath is a fictional exploration of a frightening murderous phenomenon of our times.

Book Links:

My Review:

Shankar Lande is a state bus driver. So, when he gets on a bus and starts to drive erratically it would have seemed like a normal thing for most of the public. But soon it is clear that he is on a rampage as he goes on to kill and maim numerous people and vehicles. It took 10 deaths and 70 injuries before the police could stop and arrest him. The crime was so heinous that most lawyers wouldn’t touch Shankar Lande’s case until a young lawyer decides to represent him. Varun Gupta is an idealist and as such he makes it his duty to do his best to defend his client even when the said client seems like a monster.

The book starts with a bang. It gets you in its grips almost immediately and doesn’t let go. From the very beginning the readers feel involved with the story partly due the hook that the author has masterfully placed in the beginning and partly because the story is based off a true incident from 2012. The author has kept the story going with some information drops and some action in regular intervals. There was a bit of sarcasm in the book, parts of which was directed towards today’s media and I couldn’t help but appreciate it. Description of events, specially the rampage, has been done well. The climax and the conclusion of the book are exceptionally suitable for the topic/case at hand. Though it left me bowled over at first, it felt like the only suitable ending later on.

What stood out the most in the book was the character of the antagonist, Shankar Lande. He is a man with many shades even though one would likely think of him only as a monster. But who in their right mind would go on a killing rampage like that. 10 dead, many with injuries that would last their lifetime and all directly involved were certainly scarred for life. It would be so easy to just hang the guy and be done with it. Instead the author has shown us that he is only human. He has his share of troubles, fallacies and dark shades that keep us from condemning him outright. Books like these often help me reaffirm my belief that a book is only as good as its antagonist. I also liked the various personalities brought in by the supporting cast. It makes for a good mix of characters.

I also appreciate the way the author has first broached and then handled the subject of mental health. It presented in a manner that would make readers comfortable with the idea instead of giving it the taboo feel. Handled in a matter of fact manner, the author has done a good job in bringing forth the matter.

All in all, an interesting book for thriller lovers.

About the Author:

Salil Desai is an author, columnist, and film-maker based in Pune. He is best known for his much-acclaimed Inspector Saralkar Mystery Series which includes 3 and a Half Murders (2017), The Murder of Sonia Raikkonen (2015), and Killing Ashish Karve (2014). His other popular books are Murder on a Side Street (2011) as well as a collection of short stories, Lost Libido and
Other Gulp Fiction (2012). The Sane Psychopath (2018) is his sixth book.
An alumnus of Film & Television Institute of India (FTII), Salil’s dramatized management training videos (www.relivingindia.
com) are much appreciated in the corporate world. He also conducts intensive workshops in creative fiction writing, story
and scenario design, screenplay writing and film-making.
Salil was also one of the four international authors worldwide selected for the HALD International Writers’ Residency in
Denmark, hosted by the Danish Centre for Writers & Translators in June 2016.

Stalk the Author:
Website * Inspector Saralkar Mystery Series * Goodreads

Two lucky Indian Residents can win a paperback copy each of The Sane Psychopath.


  1. My favorite mystery of all time is the Murder in The Orient Express by Agatha Christie. I've been hearing a lot of good things about the Saralkar Mystery Series. Haven't read it before, but would love to read it!

  2. Wish Salil Desai all the very best