Reviews and Media

Amazon Prime for Where Angels Prey

A tale about the greed of corporations, even going so far as to nearly ruin a country
This review is from: Where Angels Prey (Kindle Edition)

"At the start of Where Angels Prey, SAMMAAN micro-finance employees are celebrating the company opening to stock holders, increasing the company's potential for growth. The micro-financing company focuses on giving loans to poor people in India, but as they grow and change greed sets in. When copy-cat companies pop up and begin flooding the market with loans knowing that the recipients will never be able to repay them, a team of journalists begin to cover the story.

The story relies on micro-financing terms, so some things will be difficult for people unfamiliar with such a subject to keep up with. That said, at the core is a relatable a very real story about how the wealthy can build their riches off the backs of people who have less resources and opportunity. The international settings provide additional excitement, and I loved how the descriptions breathed life into the world and characters, often showing the clashing of Indian and American lives, traditions, and values. The cast is large and filled with people from all walks of life. The story was fairly short, but that's a plus for me since it felt like the author said what they wanted without adding fluff and filler. Even the title plays into the themes of the story, showing you that companies/people who seem to carry blessings may have their own self interests at heart."

Atomskeater C, June 17, 2015

Amazon Prime for Where Angels Prey

Compelling. Waiting for a Sequel
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This review is from: Where Angels Prey (Paperback)

"Angels Prey is a compelling story which spans from the poorest regions of India to the most affluent international financiers.

Beginning
The impoverished characters who exist in a very corrupt area and must pay exorbitant usury to borrow money for needed expenses. One woman couldn't get her daughter released from the hospital without borrowing funds at 40% interest. This on top of other needed loans to support her family and repair her roof.
Ultimately when she couldn't repay her loans in a timely manner she was so backed into a corner both financially and socially that she committed suicide to try to save her daughters from ruination by corrupt money lenders.

She was unfortunately not unique. Many such suicides occurred across the poorest districts and gained much international attention.

Middle
Wealthy financial institutions sold a bill of goods in developed nations such as Singapore and the US of micro financing to impoverished people who would then supposedly own shares in their company. Instead the owners and investors gained ill-gotten wealth while the poor borrowers ended up behind the eight ball.

End
The reporters and district manager who courageously blew the lid off the scandal made the story come alive. The resulting sanctions and arrests were only partially effective in curbing the criminal victimization of India's poor as the MFI owners simply reinvented their businesses and went forth again to profit from the unfortunate.

The tale was riveting and well written. I would suggest a glossary of unfamiliar terms for the western reader.
The author wrote from the first person perspective of each central character. This was very helpful in gaining understanding of their experience.

I found even the majority of the "evil" characters relatable in their extenuating circumstances.

Bravo. Perhaps there will be a sequel with a better outcome for the downtrodden"

Amazon Customer on June 9, 2015

Amazon Prime for Where Angels Prey

This is so totally believable!!!
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This review is from: Where Angels Prey (Kindle Edition)

"'Where Angels Prey' is a fantastic name for this book by Ramesh S Arunachalam! A lot of books have fitting titles but I was just struck with awe by how perfect the title (and cover) was for this book when I realized that what was seen as a blessing, like an angel was sent from heaven to save the poor in India (and other countries) which turned out to be predators just looking for their next prey. Although I normally enjoy action packed, thriller/suspense novels, this book had me captivated from beginning to end. I also want to be clear about it, the cover has angle wings on it and uses the word 'angel' in the title but it is not a religious story. It is a fiction (based on some facts) about a microfinance companies, murder, suicide, corruption, greed, and Robert (Bob) Bradlee who is the main character and a senior economics correspondent with The New York Post.

The author did a wonderful description for the book that you can read yourself so I won't recap the story but to say there is so much more than even he tells you. As I read it, I could see where it was going on many occasions but there are definitely some surprises. For one thing, it is very detailed but not overpowering where I was lost in all the details. I also loved hearing the 'victims' side in the first person narration which really pulled at my heartstrings so much more than just knowing that their were many victims and what happened to them. What was most surprising is how hard it was to remember it is fiction and how it emotionally involved me by my feeling everything from pure sadness to being angry at how unfair it was and no one was (or should be) above the law no matter how rich or how much money they contributed.

There are many characters in the story as it involves companies and people from around the globe but all their information is told very clearly in the story of who they are and how they fit in. Many times, that is all that is told so their is no connection with them however the main and secondary characters are more developed. I liked the main character, Bob and was rooting for him but I was surprised I emotionally connected to the victims.

I thought the book was totally believable and so were the characters. I did notice a couple of errors in spacing between words which really didn't take away from the story. There was no explicit sex, deaths, or foul language. I thought it was an excellent book and recommend it to anyone who enjoys corruption/crime stories."

Sue in CT on June 9, 2015

Amazon Prime for Where Angels Prey

Not Your Typical Business Conspiracy Book!
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

"The micro-finance industry was intended to help poor people in poverty stricken countries get the funds that they needed to build businesses and careers; however, two reporters discover that micro-lenders are exploiting the people that they are supposed to be helping.

Inspired by events during the micro-finance craze in 2010, Arunachalam takes his readers on a journey that spans the globe. Readers get a glimpse into the lives of some of the borrowers as they struggle to make ends meet while paying off their debts; the government officials that are fighting to put an end to the micro-lenders' seedy practices; the people that are employed by these micro-lenders; and the two reporters, one from the U.S. and one from India, that are searching for evidence to bring down the micro-lending empire that has achieved its success on the backs of the people it is supposed to be helping.

Where Angels Prey by Ramesh S. Arunachalam is well-written, compelling, and horrifying. Readers will find themselves touched by the borrowers' plights, feel anger towards the greed exhibited by the micro-lenders in the book, and see a ray of hope as the journalistic duo discovers more about the micro-finance empire.

Where Angels Prey is a short-read, and is difficult to put down once you get started. It is easy to get drawn into the story and feel for the borrowers as Arunachalam's passion for the subject is apparent and contagious. I am not usually a fan of "business/political conspiracy" books; however, this book is anything but your typical business conspiracy book. Where Angels Prey focuses more on the stories of the people and communities touched by the micro-lenders' actions and the socioeconomic consequences of corrupt micro-lenders, rather than the micro-lenders' sketchy accounting practices; I was surprised and pleased by this, and I am happy to make this book a permanent fixture in my expanding ebook library."

Charity Rowell on June 7, 2015

Amazon Prime for Where Angels Prey

Where Angels Prey
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

"As the title Where Angels Prey by Ramesh S. Arunachalam suggests, things that seem to be too good to be true need to be viewed with skepticism. The microfinance firms in India pledged to make loans available to the poor people of India who otherwise would not qualify for money from banks.

Prasad Kamineni has good intentions when he starts up SAMMAAN Microfinance in India but finds himself on the slippery slope of greed by the time the company opens on the stock exchange. With foreign investors now in the mix, emphasis shifts from the poor people of India to profit making. The very solution to their problems becomes a curse as microfinance firms flood the villages with loans knowing that the recipients cannot repay them. Two journalists team up to investigate the actions of these businesses and uncover all manner of shady dealings to include kidnapping, murder and suicide. I could not help but feel for the victims of this system and it reminds me of the title loans that I hear some people take out these days. This story is about crime in high places and how the rich gain their fortunes at the expense of the poor. The journalists get to the bottom of the treachery and publish the results nationwide, putting the names of the bad guys out there for the world to see. The author kept me interested in the story although I did have trouble keeping some of the names and titles straight. The author’s writing style pulled me in and made my heart ache while reading about the exploitation of the poor people of India. He made me want to see the bad guys punished and I was impressed with his facts about the microfinance sector. Each chapter transitioned easily to the next and I recommend this book to those who enjoy the hunt for the bad guys in the world of high finance crime. The book cover shows a man with wings, giving the impression that he is an angel. The question is whether the angel is one of the players in the finance arena or is the angel one of the journalists? The results will surprise you."

Lennette on May 15, 2015

MoneyLife

"Review in Moneylife"
An insight into ‘real’ political economy of micro-finance, told in the form of a novel

Micro-finance institutions (MFIs) were supposed to deliver a win-win solution: making money, by doing a public good. But these two objectives turned out to be irreconcilable. A reconciliation was possible only by applying force, which MFIs actually applied, resorting to age-old, time-tested ‘third-degree’ methods. Soon, it acquired a proportion of a socio-political ‘crisis’ in the main theatre of Indian micro-finance industry, i.e., Andhra Pradesh (AP).

If one Googles ‘micro credit crisis’, the search engine throws up more than 1.5 million pages within 0.42 seconds. But can one imagine writing a novel based on it? That is exactly what Ramesh S Arunachalam, a known name among development practitioners, an occasional writer for www.moneylife.in, has done.

Amazon for Where Angels Prey

Get ready to enter the world of micro-financing corruption!
Format: Kindle Edition

"Starting in September 2010 and ending in August 2011, you will read a story that could actually be truth not fiction. For the reader who has no previous knowledge of micro-financing you might find this all a little tough to follow. At times, I felt the storyline got a little bogged down with all the details, sometimes reading more like a history book. On the other hand it was essential to understand the past in order to comprehend what was going on in the present. There are also a great number of characters introduced in this book in varying parts of the world.

As to the story, the stock of SAMMAAN Microfinance is now officially listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange, a cause for great celebration or is it? Bob, a senior economics correspondent for the New York Post sees a story coming out of all this. As he plans a trip to India, he gets a chance to be present at a speech given by Prasad Kamimeni, Founder Chairman of SAMMAAN in Boston, before he leaves. Bob is skeptical as to whether the micro-financing is actually changing lives. He arranges to meet Prasad in India. Once he has arrived, Bob is surprised to see his journalist friend Chandresh whom he has been trying to get hold of for the last two weeks. What can they uncover together?

Throughout the book the reader is taken to India and into different homes and situations which allows you to see the corruption and thus desperation first hand. Pressure begins to mount as more and more suicides are reported. Can Bob, Chandresh and other upright people make a difference?

This is a well-written, clean book that is not too long of a read. It is not what I would call a thriller as it really doesn't keep you on the edge of your seat. In some ways I would like to class it as historical fiction but as the story only occurred in the last few years and could still be going on today that is not the right genre either! Well worth a read and may give you the desire to look into the truth a little more closely.

Please note that I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review."
Liz Pomeroy on May 10, 2015

Amazon for Where Angels Prey

Thriller in the world of finance..
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

"Where Angels Prey is a thriller set in the financial world of microfinance institutions in India. Set during the latest financial crisis in 2010, journalist Robert Bradlee is looking for a story and investigates why the world of microfinance institutions is so lucrative while other businesses are failing. What he finds blows the lid off of these micro loan companies that are unregulated and use less than honourable methods to collect on the debts. The poor citizens of India take out small loans for various reasons from these companies, mainly SAMMAAN, and when they can’t pay the loans back they are so harassed that many are driven to suicide. The closer the truth is to coming out, the more desperate the microfinance companies become and people’s lives become endangered. I know very little about microfinance institutions.

Before reading this book I thought they were a good idea for the poorer countries but this story made them seem scary. The story itself is fast paced and entertaining and the fact that it has me wondering if things like this are happening has me intrigued. Some of the financial terms were over my head and it’s obvious the author knows his topic. The characters are well rounded and thought out. The characters exhibited the differences between the Indian culture and the Western culture in very subtle ways which also added to the complexity of each one. This I also found quite fascinating. The writing flows quite well and the story moves from chapter to chapter easily with no confusion. Formatted for both an ereader and a paperback, the digital version worked well on my ereader. The cover was neither here nor there but I loved the title. This is an exciting book to read and I think it would be especially enjoyed by those familiar with the world of finance."
Francine 1898 on May 9, 2015

ForexTv

Where Angels Prey is a compelling and disturbing story of greed and exploitation on a massive scale.
"(New York-May 2015) The inescapable truth of most every society is that the lives of its citizens can often be told in terms of money, often with negative consequences for the poor. Where Angels Prey is a work of fiction by Ramesh S. Arunachalam that lays bare this unfortunate truth and its dire consequences in rural India. Arunachalam weaves a sometimes sordid tale chronicling the world of the micro finance industry in Andhra Pradesh, India circa 2010."

While the world was on the brink of financial collapse due to the American-initiated financial crisis, the business of writing and granting small loans to India’s billion plus poor (called the Micro Finance Industry) was exploding across the globe as investment firms clamored to become part of this unseemly financial investment oasis. Originally designed to help lift India’s poor out of poverty, The Micro Finance Industry began a rapid transformation from protector to predator almost overnight.

Arunachalam’s story begins as a humble pursuit by a journalist in search of a mundane beat assignment story and quickly opens upon an unexpected vista of usury, corruption, manipulation, malfeasance and the sickening exploitation of India’s poor on a massive and global scale.
Striking an uncanny balance of story-telling and factual relevance, Where Angels Prey uncovers predatory exploitation on such a massive scale, it is dizzying at times. In 2010 when customers of Micro Finance companies in India start committing suicide in alarming numbers, it becomes clear that the Micro Finance lenders have turned to ruthless tactics in their lending and collection practices.

With a primary focus on lending to women, the tale exposes a brutal cultural and gender bias that exists in India’s class hierarchy. Families pledging women and children as loan collateral and lenders taking unspeakable liberties with females who are unable to repay their debts, challenges the conscience and constitution when reading Angels.

All this against a background of systemic corruption and privileged ruling class sets the reader up for a climactic scene of a hard fall and justice finally being served. However, that satisfaction is not delivered and the outcome is nothing short of confounding.

A modern day version of Buck’s The Good Earth, Where Angels Prey is a haunting reminder of the dark side of money and capitalism.
Tim Kelley - Founder of ForexTV