Book Review: The Sane Psychopath by Salil Desai




Genre: Fiction / Thriller

Publishers: FingerPrint!

Price: Rs. 199/- (I got the book for review from the publisher)

Behind 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.

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 ( 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.

"How do you forgive someone who is not even sorry?"
This was the first thought that came to my mind the moment I read the blurb of this book. The cover is daunting, especially those effects in the title following by that single eye staring back at you from a reddish brown cover.

The Sane Psychopath is unique in a lot of ways - first it is a thriller cum court room drama cum socio-drama that talks about mental health. Second, the ending is one that leaves you with questions rather than answers, which for a thriller is a challenge. But the author, Salil Desai lived upto that challenge brilliantly. Instead of giving us a preachy, white washed ending which would have been more of his opinion/ perspective about the whole issue, he left it on us to decipher all that was between the lines. Thirdly, it is different from the author's Inspector Saralkar series. Here from the police station, the story has now moved to a courtroom.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the honest discussions about Shankar's mental health. The obvious has been stated in a matter of fact manner without making it awkward or seem like half-baked information. Backed by strong research, every aspect of law, dealing with criminal cases and mental health have been written with an unmatched precision.

Written in his inimitable style, the narrative is hauntingly real. I need to confess all throughout the time I was reading the book, whenever I went out I kept an eye for buses around me. I was literally on tenterhooks whenever I saw a speeding truck passing by. That is the power of this book. Moreover, his style of writing is captivating - in a way he captures the reader's attention completely, not leaving it even for a nanosecond. Every page, every passage has some or the other action happening, ensuring the reader is on a high alert trying to guess what follows next.

The best part of the book is, that you know Shankar Lande is going to kill people with his bus, yet as you read the first few pages leading to this incident your heart starts thumping in anticipation. Hats off to the author for managing this feat - we know what's in store and yet we await it excitedly speaks volumes about his writing prowess. A taut narrative compliments the flawless plot exceptionally well making it an engrossing read.

All the characters have different shades, they are confused and that is perhaps what makes them more relatable. One moment they are all gung-ho about something and the very next moment they despise the whole thought it. This transformation is raw and intense, captured beautifully by the author for you relate to their see-sawing reactions.

There is lots of suspense and thrill, mixed with emotions and compassion in those pages, making it a thriller where you do not know whether to sympathize with the villain or be angry.  To be honest, the ending left me feeling perplexed. After the court room scenes and other investigative analysis which followed I was expecting a completely different ending than this. But this one, will haunt readers for long after having finished the book. It had an impact which perhaps no other ending would have had. It is this ending which steals the show completely for me.

Strongly recommended for all thriller and suspense lovers, there is tons of it in this for you to devour!

Foodie Verdict

This book is like Potato Stacks - Crunchy and crispy perfect anytime snack!

Source: Real Housemoms


  1. This book is tremendous... I'm so very perplexed.. After each and every line I expected one thing to happen but always the opposite happened... So many questions loitering around me with no answers.. I could visualize the whole thing and that made me all the more scared... It's more horrifying than a horror movie.. And I always thought what would have happened if I played any of the characters... 🙂


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