Bombay lawyer George Sansi's third case (The Ganja Coast, 1995, etc.) pits him against the unstoppably wealthy and unspeakably corrupt industrialist behind a monstrous chemical disaster. Compared to the Union Carbide accident at Bhopal, the disaster caused by phosphorus spilled into the Ganges at Varanasi is no big deal—a mere 1,100 dead and 4,000 wounded. But to Sansi's old friend Rupe Seshan, newly appointed minister for environment, it's exactly the routine nature of the tragedy that's most insidious. Determined to expose the culprits before their criminal carelessness becomes a model for corporate greed, she appoints incorruptible Supreme Court Judge Kusheed Pilot to head a commission and, with the help of circumspect hints about deporting Sansi's lover, Times of India reporter Annie Ginnaro, bullies him into heading the investigation. It's no secret who's behind the spill—wily Madhuri Amlani, founder and CEO of Renown Oil and dozens of other indefensible, untouchable industries. But Amlani, who's had six months to get braced for the investigation, has armored himself with an army of cat's paws, cutouts, forged documents, bribes, and perjuries so audacious that Sansi hasn't a hope of getting at him. His latest stunt: getting indiscreet photos of Rupe and Sansi—who've now finally consummated their childhood infatuation—which are bound to compromise Sansi and chase the investigation off the front pages, and Annie from her job at the Times when she's asked to write up the story. Running rings around his stifled children, the gangster former boyfriend of his son Joshi's starlet inamorata (a sadly abortive subplot, this one), and the naive American sharpies planning to capitalize Renown Oil out from under him, Amlani steamrolls Sansi, Rupe, and Judge Pilot, clearly unconquerable by anyone with the minutest scruples. Will stolid Sansi put aside his legal training to reel him in? In the end, Sansi stays technically virtuous as ever, but casting him as the unmoved eye of this teeming, miasmal Indian storm makes his latest adventure his richest yet.
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