Under Pressure - Robert Pobi

So here’s the deal. I need to write this fast because once again, this author has run me ragged & I’m in desperate need of a nap. This is book #2 of the Lucas Page series & as with “City of Windows” you’re in for a wild ride full of mystery, suspense & black humour.


The story begins with a literal bang after a massive explosion at NYC’s iconic Guggenheim Museum. The casualty list reads like a who’s who of millionaires & every level of law enforcement is left pondering the same question. What kind of bomb reduces 702 bodies to ashes but leaves the building upright?


One of those scratching his head is Brett Kehoe, the FBI’s special agent in charge of Manhattan. His first thought is who was the target….one of the victims or all of them? The logistics of investigating over 700 lives is overwhelming & Kehoe quickly realizes he needs someone who can absorb a million facts & spit out an answer. He needs a human computer. Good thing he knows one.


Meanwhile, Dr. Lucas Page has just learned a hard lesson. Never let your daughter experiment with hair dye. On you. He, wife Erin & their herd of kids are enjoying a break at the cottage. Or they were until Kehoe landed a chopper on the lawn.


He knows getting Lucas to join the investigation will be a tough sell but has 2 secret weapons. An irresistibly intricate puzzle to solve & special agent Angela Whitaker. She’s the one colleague Lucas can tolerate & the only one who finds his antisocial behaviour amusing. It’s supposed to be a quick 2 day assignment. But then another bomb goes off. And another.


Grab a comfie chair, peeps, because you’re not going to be moving for a few hours. Pobi knows how to tell a story that grips you from the start. The plot is complex & perfect for readers who love to ride shotgun with an investigation. What elevates it above your garden variety thriller are the characters.


Lucas is an original & complicated MC. His unique brain took him from foster kid to astrophysicist. Then an horrific accident left him with 2 prosthetic limbs. But his sunny personality…..just kidding. He pretty much hates everyone. Blunt sarcasm is his preferred style of communication but it’s also the source of much of the black humour found throughout.


Matching him shot for shot is Whitaker, an intelligent young woman with little time for fools. Their relationship is such an enjoyable part of this series & provides comic relief when we need a breather from the hair-raising action. The dialogue in general is economical but conversations between these two have a dry, edgy humour that adds to the story.


But as much as I enjoy the returning characters I must confess I have a new favourite. That would be Binky. He’s the strong, silent type who never loses his cool. Sure, he’s a bit hairier than his partner but he gets the job done. All he asks is you throw a few olives his way. Total scene-stealer.


The author also takes shots at our increasing dependence on & addiction to smart phones & social media. I don’t want to give too much away as it’s integral to the plot but there’s a hilarious irony to several scenes featuring public demonstrations. And (sadly) they are completely believable.


It’s not long before we identify the target but figuring out the “who” in who-dun-it might take you until the last few pages. At a time when we’re all looking for a little escapism, this book provides a smart, entertaining remedy for the stay at home blahs. I’d love to tag along with these characters again so hopefully book #3 is in the works. Fingers crossed it includes Binky.