Under Pressure is the second book to feature Lucas Page, but the first I’ve read.
The opening is at the Guggeheim, where a ton of very wealthy people are present at a party for a high-tech environmental cleaning company (think fracking sites, and the like), with a multibillion dollar IPO looming. All seems rather genteel until a thermobaric bomb ignites, vaporizing the people and the art, leaving the building itself relatively intact.
Brett Kehoe, Special Agent In Charge/Manhattan, faced with the daunting task of sorting out 700+ dead and solving the mystery of why anyone would want to kill them, calls on ex-FBI agent, and current instructor at Columbia, Lucas Page to assist. Page is reluctant, but finally agrees, and we are whisked off to an almost nonstop ride of bombings, close calls, and mysteries that deepen as more people die.
At the heart of the mystery seems to be the Hockney brothers, William and Seth, and their sprawling megacorp. Are the bombings simply a statement against their companies, or is something more personal the core of it? While I have some issues with overly-complex conspiracies, and the habit, often, of main characters heading out into danger on their own, without telling anyone, to see if their reasoning/guess is correct about the bad guy, overall this was not a book killer.
Page, who lost a leg, arm, and eye in something he calls the Event, has a genius-level ability to instantly calculate areas, distances, see connections where others see none, and apparently possesses an eidetic memory. It reminded me quite a bit of the TV series Numb3rs. He is not terribly patient with people he views as stupid, is cranky a lot of times, and can be bitingly sarcastic. I liked him immensely.
Teasing out the mystery becomes more and more dangerous the closer Page gets to the truth, and in the end becomes, for him, a calculation of odds. To say more would give away too much. I will say this, though: be aware of the handcuffs. Chekov’s pistol has never been more apt.
Solid four stars.
Note: while there is enough backstory to know what has come before, I would suggest that if you intend to read the first book (City of Windows), you do that first before reading this. There’s a spoiler in this book for the last – it’s a blink and you miss it thing, but it’s there.
Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur for the reading copy.