Under Pressure by Robert Pobi

Under Pressure by Robert Pobi
Publisher: Hachette UK
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

On a beautiful October evening, New York City’s iconic Guggenheim Museum is closed for a tech company’s private gala. Until an explosion rocks the night, instantly killing 702 people, including every single attendee—yet the damage to the building itself was minimal.

An explosion of that precision was no accident and, in response, the FBI mobilizes its entire team — but the sheer number of victims strains their resources. Were all 702 victims in the wrong place at the wrong time, or was there only one target and 701 unlucky bystanders? That many victim files is a staggering amount of data to sort through and Brett Kehoe, Special Agent in Charge of Manhattan, decides that he can’t do this without more computational power.

Dr. Lucas Page, astrophysicist, university professor, and former FBI agent, is uniquely gifted for the task at hand—he can visualize a crime scene as if he was a bystander and can break down any set of data at a glance. Even though Page wants nothing to do with the FBI, with his city under attack and his family at risk, he steps in to find a killer in a haystack before they strike again.

Dr. Lucas Page is enjoying life with his family. An astrophysicists and father of five adopted children, he and his wife live in a happy state of constant chaos. The events of the previous winter are only a memory, until Page’s contacts at the FBI turn up once again when a bomb goes off at a super-rich event at the Guggenheim Museum. The city once more is thrown into fear and chaos and the FBI are willing to use their every tool, including Page and his extraordinary perceptions. Can Lucas return once again both to balancing the fieldwork he used to love and the family he adores?

This is the second book in the Dr Page series and while I do feel this can be read and enjoyed by itself, I also feel there are enough tendrils linking this second book back to the first that readers who usually want to keep things in order might want to begin at the first book before cracking this one open. That said the plot is entirely contained in this story and even though there are clear links between Lucas and the various FBI characters they are quite clearly explained, and most readers shouldn’t have a problem with this or following along and greatly enjoying the ride.

I was also really relieved that Page’s wife, Erin, is a lot more in the background for this novel. While I completely understand it’s a great part of conflict in the plot to have the wife unhappy with her husband being carted off for days on end to help the government and spoil their happy family times, I do feel it gets old and repetitive after a while. It’s a realistic and logical consequence of the assistance and danger Lucas is put in, but we don’t need to hear about it over and over throughout the book. I was very pleased that this took a lot more of a back seat this time around.

I also found the plot to be really fresh and, in many ways, unique. I loved that there was quite a bit of complexity layering everything together and I strongly feel that Pobi has added a few new elements into this type of story with the very different perspective Page adds into the story. It made a lot of the story feel fresh and different to me and I admit I struggled to put the book down to get on with my regular life. I found the story as a whole was quite addictive and I just kept wanting to read more and more. I ended up having a few late nights with the “just another chapter or two” mentality and that’s always the hallmark for me of an exceptional book.

With interesting characters, a really solid plot and some new twists on the old story of “bomber blows up the city” this was a good read and one I really enjoyed.