Intricate, pacy and clever, this is a 5-Star thriller.
Another book with a recommendation from Lee Child on the cover, and by an author I’d never heard of. But the cover was beguiling so I borrowed it – and I’m really glad I did. Now I’m just asking myself why I’ve never come across Robert Pobi before?
City of Windows is a great thriller that’s both intricate and pacy. It’s a story that could sound familiar: a sniper kills an off-duty FBI agent with what appears to be an impossible shot, in the middle of a blizzard in New York city. But from that starting point it takes several sharp turns to become something different.
For a start there’s the protagonist. Lucas Page was once an FBI agent but retired after he was badly injured on a case. He lost one eye, and now has a prosthetic leg and hand; and since the incident has become a well-respected professor of mathematics. He also has a complicated private life, having adopted several traumatised children with his wife. So he doesn’t really have the time or inclination to help the FBI track down the killer.
And then there’s the politics. Kehoe, the FBI agent in charge of the investigation, suspects this shooting is just the start, and Page agrees. But for some reason the politicians are determined the killing is a terrorist incident and want to misdirect the investigation accordingly. When more people are killed Kehoe finds himself walking a tightrope between what the politicians want to be proved, and what his gut tells him is the reality. Eventually he persuades Page to be a consultant on the case.
I don’t want to give too much away but the plot is slick and clever. Pieces of the puzzle are presented and dealt with carefully, to build a picture of the killer. But somehow it doesn’t feel right. When you think the team is on the right track, something will happen that derails things and keeps the suspense high. And the final twist, which occurs in the last quarter of the book, is pretty unexpected.
This story pulled me in before I knew it. In the first few pages I was half-expecting to abandon the book before finishing it. But that never happened. The storytelling is good – measured but moving along at a steady pace, with good descriptions and a real sense of atmosphere. And all of the characters are interesting, even the bit-players.
It turns out that City of Windows is the first book in a series about Dr Lucas Page. Published in the UK in 2019 it was voted the ‘Best Foreign Crime Novel’ at the Cognac Crime Film Festival in 2020. The sleeve notes on the paperback quote from a review that likens Lucas Page to Jeffery Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme. But for me, Page is a much more human and interesting character than Rhyme and I know I’ll be looking for more in this series – and other books by Pobi, come to that.
If you enjoy thrillers and/or police procedurals, do read this because it really is a bit different. It wasn’t so much that I couldn’t put it down; I really, really didn’t want to put it down! 5-Stars from me.
Review by: Cornish Eskimo
P.S. If you’d like to come along to a meeting of the Oundle Crime book group, just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll send you the details.