Book Review: City of Windows by Robert Pobi
By Ray PalenAugust 16, 2019
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, the FBI turns to the one man who might be able to help them—former FBI agent Lucas Page.
The Summer of 2019 is finishing up with a bang as Robert Pobi‘s latest thriller—City of Windows—may very well be the best beach read of the Sol Season!
The nicest thing, for readers living in warm climates, is that City of Windows is set during one of the coldest winters in the history of New York City. In fact, a good part of the novel takes place during a blinding blizzard. Pedestrian and street traffic may be all but completely stalled out, yet the deadly onset of a brutal series of sniper kills has just begun.
Beginning on December 19th, this winter tale opens with a woman named Nimi Olsen about to take her final steps as she attempts to traverse icy Park Avenue. It isn’t a sniper’s bullet that takes her down. Rather, it’s the car that plowed into her as she was literally frozen between lanes—the driver having just had his head excised from his body by the sniper’s bullet. Special Agent In Charge Brett Kehoe turns up at the apartment of one Dr. Lucas Page. Page is a former FBI Agent and current Columbia University Professor. He is also a brilliant astrophysicist—sort of like an irascible version of Carl Sagan meets Stephen Hawking. But this is not the most interesting thing about Page. He bears the evidence of the near-death experience that ended his FBI days—a glass eye and prosthetic arm and leg. Almost like a bionic version of Dr. Gregory House (for those who recall that terrific show and its homage to Sherlock Holmes).
The FBI need Page’s help, not just because of his brilliant mind and serial-killer hunting skill, but also due to the irony that the victim in the car that took Nimi Olsen’s life was his former partner, Doug Hartke. This fact does indeed grab Page’s attention and he agrees to give help on his own terms and for just a brief period. Page’s wife, Erin, is at home with a handful of foster children they are raising and all are preparing for a Christmas without Lucas becoming the next victim of the sniper. Kehoe answers to Grover Graves, not a favorite of Page’s, but Page does not plan to stick around long enough to let Graves get too far under his skin. The very difficult Dr. Page does hit it off with Agent Whitaker, a female FBI Agent who can more than hold her own against him.
Meanwhile, the body count begins to rise and all of the victims seem to be somehow connected to law enforcement. Page and Whitaker realize the best chance to find and stop the killer is to figure out who may have been slighted by all those murdered and use that information to their advantage. Grover Graves becomes one of the sniper’s victims along with a Prison Guard at Riker’s Island. Another puzzling event takes place when two NYPD Detectives attempt to wipe out Page and his entire household. If not for the assistance of fellow paraplegic and expert marksman, the wily Australian nicknamed Dingo, Page might have lost everything.
While CNN and Fox News battle over coverage of the NYC sniper, Page and Whitaker head to the small town of Bible Hill, Wyoming. There they find a previously closed case that involved all of the men so far killed by the sniper. They were investigating the cabin home of a man they suspected of being a potential white nationalist terrorist. The case goes badly wrong when an errant shot hits a propane tank and the succeeding explosion destroys everyone inside. It must have been someone close to this family who is not seeking revenge—and Dr. Page could very well be the last name on the sniper’s list!
City of Windows reads like a literary blizzard, with thrills and twists around every corner with no sign of ever slowing down. I have enjoyed everything Robert Pobi has written to date—whether it be horror, thriller or straight crime. The finale of City of Windows takes place at the eastern-most point of New York State—Montauk Point at the tip of Long Island. I have a soft spot for this novel which is set in my hometown of NYC, as well as my last New York State address of Eastern Long Island. Pobi’s ice-cold novel definitely provided some much-needed chills to this new Floridian!