Minotaur Books | 2019
Opening Hook: Stop for a pedestrian, get shot by a sniper. The moral is, stop being polite.
Main Character: Excuse me, sir, your glass eye is upside down.
Plot Twisty-ness: Once you get off the soapbox, it’s a complex, snow-covered road.
Okay, listen up! You want to read this book.
If I could tie you up, for completely non-sexual sexual reasons, and force you to read this, I wouldn’t because I am a strong supporter of consent. But you should still read this, regardless of if I am exerting my will over you or not.
I’m going to go full Stefan on you right now, and say this book’s got everything! Blood, guts, impressive sniper shots and lots of action. There’s a retired FBI agent with one eye, a prosthetic leg, five foster children, dead old rich lady flashbacks and Page’s dope ability to solve crimes using mathematical algorithms that he does in his head just by looking at things. Seriously, he mental-MacGyver’s the fuck out of some crime scenes.
It’s like borderline dumb but also really cool, so I’m not mad about it.
There’s a terrible blizzard, right-wing anti-government bad guys that I love to see get bitch-slapped, lots of striking political commentary and current-as-hell themes tying the whole thing together.
Booknerds, you have to hear the words coming out of my metaphorical mouth right now: Robert Pobi is a firecracker writer!
I’m beating myself up that I’ve not read him sooner.
His prose are clever, colourful and unique, touched with a subtle humour and personal opinions that elevate the novel to that often sought place in crime fiction – a place where the story feels human, not just dark and serious and unreal.
Dr. Lucas Page is a retired FBI agent. Though still a younger man, he was in a mysterious “event” while on the job and it scarred him for life, taking his leg, arm and one of his eyes. He’s now a professor, living out his days adopting kids like I dream of adopting dogs, and trying to be the best dad and husband he can be after learning firsthand that life is just too goddamn short.
But when a sniper turns the streets on NYC into a game of whack-a-mole, taking shots that are impossible to determine where they came from, the FBI comes calling on Page to use his big math brain and figure out how to stop this unseen madman. Page resists until he learns the first victim was his former partner at the Bureau, and then he’s sucked back in because there would be no book otherwise.
The story takes us across NYC and then into the Wyoming mountains, where the settings are so vibrant and well-written that they feel like secondary characters.
By nature of the plot, there is a lot of talk about current political issues. The idea of “sovereign citizens” is explored – people who believe only they, not the laws of a country, are in control of their lives and do not believe the government has a right to interfere in their lives or their property. Gun control is explored. The current administration is explored, though not by name, which I appreciated because I’m not sure how much more of Orange Mussolini I can actually take. Even CNN and Fox are not spared from Pobi’s commentary.
There are a few moments in the book where it felt more like the author was preaching from a soapbox, instead of me reading two characters having an opinionated conversation. While I agreed with mostly everything Pobi had to say, I was lifted out of the fiction of the novel and plopped down into a personal essay a couple of times.
In between those heavier, political themes (which might not appeal to everyone), there is a tense plot, really interesting characters and a tone that anyone wanting to read a thriller that feels genuine and exciting and different will appreciate.
Honestly, everything about this was just extra as hell. Pobi’s writing is full of flare and snark and sparkle, but it does dance on the border of occasionally trying too hard to be edgy. His characters feel new and strange and so wonderfully crafted that they are basically real people.
I enjoyed the fuck out of this.
During the worst blizzard in memory, an FBI agent in a moving SUV in New York City is killed by a nearly impossible sniper shot. Unable to pinpoint where the shot came from, as the storm rapidly wipes out evidence, the agent-in-charge Brett Kehoe turns to the one man who might be able to help them–former FBI agent Lucas Page.
Page, a university professor and bestselling author, left the FBI years ago after a tragic event robbed him of a leg, an arm, an eye, and the willingness to continue. But he has an amazing ability to read a crime scene, figure out angles and trajectories in his head, and he might be the only one to be able to find the sniper’s nest. With a new wife and family, Lucas Page has no interest in helping the FBI–except for the fact that the victim was his former partner.
Agreeing to help for his partner’s sake, Page finds himself hunting a killer with an unknown agenda and amazing sniper skills in the worst of conditions. And his partner’s murder is only the first in a series of meticulously planned murders carried out with all-but-impossible sniper shots. The only thing connecting the deaths is that the victims are all with law enforcement–that is until Page’s own family becomes a target.
To identify and hunt down this ruthless, seemingly unstoppable killer, Page must discover what hidden past connects the victims before he himself loses all that is dear to him.