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Book Author: Robert Pobi

DO NO HARM by Robert Pobi: Book Review

The title of this novel is a quotation loosely translated from the Hippocratic oath that physicians take.  But what happens when someone is harming the physicians?

Lucas Page, astrophysicist, professor, and former FBI agent, is himself a testament to the skills of doctors.  Gravely wounded on more than one occasion, he has an artificial arm, an artificial leg, and only one eye.  But that does not hinder his incredible mathematical facility, his almost instantaneous ability with statistics to create a pattern that makes sense of seemingly random events.

His wife Erin is a doctor, and on this night the couple is going to a charity dinner in support of some of the city’s underfunded hospitals.  Knowing what is to come after the dinner is served, there is a sadness in the room because of the news that one of the city’s most respected orthopedic surgeons committed suicide the night before.

The dinner’s final presentation is a montage of New York City’s medical personnel who died since the previous year.  The list is long, incredibly long, with doctors dying from accidents, suicides, cancer, heart disease, and other causes.  As Lucas and Erin are walking home, they talk about the large number of people whose photos had been shown at the event.  Erin asks her husband about the chances of her knowing so many people who died during a such a brief period of time.  Lucas doesn’t answer, but he thinks that the chances are zero.

The next morning one of his graduate assistants gives him the data that Lucas requested after he returned home from the fundraiser.  It consists of thirty pages, one for each death.  As he reviews the information, it confirms his conclusions–each was a homicide.

Lucas goes to his former FBI colleague, Brett Kehoe, with the data and his belief that every death, whether its cause was determined to be illness, accident, or self-inflicted, was in fact a murder.  Brett is disbelieving, even as Lucas explains,”A lack of pattern is a dead giveaway that you’re looking at a pattern.”

Continuing his explanation to a still-unconvinced Kehoe, Lucas points out that each of these deaths took place on a Tuesday and during an activity that was a regular one for the victim–jogging, riding a motorcycle, fishing, and so on.  Lucas states that the doctors were going through routines that were easy for the killer to learn about, and that made it easy to commit the crimes.  The agent asks how is it possible that these deaths were missed by the New York City police and fire departments, the coroner’s office, the families of the dead, and other agencies?  How can they all be wrong and Lucas be right?

The bodies keep piling up, and Lucas is determined to investigate despite the initial skepticism of the FBI.  Do No Harm is an incredible thriller, and Lucas Page is definitely a unique protagonist.

You can read more about Robert Pobi at this website.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden OldiesPast Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.

CITY OF WINDOWS by Robert Pobi: Book Review

Although I know nothing more about Robert Pobi than what I read in the brief, somewhat off-the-wall bio on his web page, I am pretty sure we have at least one thing in common:  neither one of us owns a microwave.  I say this because since this same bio states that Mr. Pobi does not do Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or Snapchat, nor does he own a cellphone, the lack of a microwave seems a pretty safe bet.

Another thing we have in common is our love of mystery novels.  He writes them and I read them, and I hope he enjoyed writing City of Windows as much as I enjoyed reading it.

The book’s protagonist, Dr. Lucas Page, has a unique background.  He is a university professor, astrophysicist, textbook author, former FBI agent, television and radio commentator, NASA consultant–did I leave anything out?  And he also is a man with only one eye, one arm, and one leg.

Severely injured in the line of duty several years earlier, Lucas now leads a more prosaic life.  That he does so is a combination of factors, including the seemingly obvious limitations due to his injuries and a promise he made to his wife not to get involved in any FBI investigations, even as a consultant.

But when Special Agent Brett Kehoe comes to his door with the news that Lucas’ former partner and an innocent bystander were shot and killed not far from Lucas’ home in Manhattan, Lucas feels he has no choice but to use his unique skills to find the killer.

The book’s title comes from a statement that Kehoe makes to another agent as they try to locate the spot from which the shot was fired.  The agents are looking at over 1,600 yards of rooftop and nearly 3,000 windows in the immediate area of the murders and can’t work out where the shooter had stood.  That’s when Kehoe goes to Lucas.

Before the attack that nearly claimed his life, Page had the amazing ability to translate blocks and buildings into numerical components and units of measure.  Now, standing in a blizzard on 42nd Street and Park Avenue, he wonders if he still has that skill, but he doesn’t wonder for long.  Within minutes, mental algorithms start putting things together for him, and he turns to an agent standing near him.  “…tell Kehoe I know where the shot came from….The roof of number 3 Park Avenue.”

Not surprisingly, Page is not universally popular with agents in the Bureau.  Agent Grover Graves, in particular, uses every opportunity to downplay Lucas’ ability and his refusal to accept the official FBI profile of the killer.  The agency received a report from French authorities that the man they want is a wealthy young Frenchman who has been radicalized, and even though Kehoe doesn’t agree with that, he has been ordered by FBI higher-ups, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Homeland Security to find Philippe Froissant.

So Kehoe turns to Lucas to support his view.  But it takes three more deaths for the powers-that-be to agree with this.  And in the meantime Lucas is drawn ever deeper into his old role, bringing danger not only to himself but to his family.

Robert Pobi has written a hold-your-breath thriller, one you won’t put down until you’ve turned the last page.  You can read more about him at this website.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden Oldies, Past Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.