Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Review: WORLD OF TROUBLE, by Ben H. Winters
So World of Trouble was for me one of the most hotly anticipated books of this year. It's the third in a series called The Last Policeman, about Detective Hank Palace of the Concord, New Hampshire police department, and some very unusual circumstances. The world is going to end- a comet called Maia will collide at a certain date and it's definitely going to happen. The first book, also called The Last Policeman, takes place about six months out; the second, Countdown City, 77 days before impact. This one starts merely two weeks from Maia's slated arrival. All three are fairly standard procedurals but what makes them different is the premise. Why solve a murder, or resolve a disappearance, if everyone is going to die in six months? Why do anything anymore, when nothing you do will matter?
The answer to these questions is one that Hank pursues along with his perps. Before the world ends though, it falls apart little by little. People go "bucket list," leaving jobs and relationships to chase last-minute dreams. All over the world anarchy is taking hold. The poor in parts of the world that will be affected most immediately by Maia flock to the United States and other richer countries in hope of salvation. People stockpile food, weapons, whatever. Currency becomes meaningless, and so does life, for a lot of people.
For Hank, hanging on to his sanity, and his humanity, means taking the time to care for Maia's first victims, these murders and disappearances that happen before the impact. So he insists on investigating an apparent suicide in the first book, at a time when suicides have become commonplace, and a man who disappears from his devoted wife in the second, when everyone and their neighbor is going "bucket list".
In this final volume Hank is chasing his sister, Nico, who has taken up with a group of survivalists who believe they can save the world. Hank is skeptical to say the least but his sister is all he has left and he's determined to find her and be with her when the impact happens. Because as much as he hopes, he doesn't doubt that it will. He leaves a communal home he's been sharing with other police officers to bike to Ohio to find her. What he finds changes everything and nothing.
From a whodunit perspective this book was right up there with The Last Policeman for providing satisfactory twists and turns although I did guess who did it at an opportune moment well before the big reveal. But this book is still a great page-turner filled with lots of colorful and surprising characters. The big question is, does the world end? I won't tell you but I will say the ending is beautiful, poetic and just- and this just might be one of the best reads of 2014.
FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.