A trenchant satire marketed as a thriller, “How to Kidnap the Rich” follows a professional exam cheat in modern New Delhi, who has dragged himself out of the gutter in which his venal father dominated him. When a client student comes first in the national university exams and is an instant celebrity, Ramesh seizes a chance to reach the big time, only to be kidnapped and ransomed. Up until that point, the author offers a savage treatise on the modern Indian state, and also sets up the kidnapping well. As a deeply imagined character, Ramesh is brilliant, amoral as fuck but still somehow principled. But from then on the storyline devolves into an almost silly sequence of actions and double crosses. It’s as if the author set the whole thing in motion, then winged it. The postscript ending also irked me: “so what,” I found myself thinking. A book of two halves, How to Kidnap the Rich remains a propulsive, fascinating story.