The Last Policeman, by Ben H. Winters. Published 2013 by Quirk Books.
The Last Policeman is
the first of a trilogy and tells the story of Concord, New Hampshire
detective Henry Palace, recently promoted after 15 months on the force.
He's investigating the death of one Peter Zell, an introverted
accountant found hanged in a McDonald's bathroom. It looks like he
killed himself. I mean, it really looks that way, and everyone
thinks Palace's crazy to investigate, because these days everyone is
killing himself. It's the end of the world, after all.
it really is. In the book, scientists have predicted that a mammoth
asteroid is six months away from destroying life on Earth. Anarchy is
settling in. People are pulling up stakes, going "bucket list" to do the
things they always wanted to do. Cults are forming. Hopelessness
abounds. And suicides are way, way up, so much so that no one even
questions Zell's death. No one does, except for Palace.
The Last Policeman
is more than just a mystery. It asks some searching questions about the
choices that people make- would make, could make- when faced with the
collective, inevitable, date-is-on-the-calendar end. It also asks us
about our own lives, since each of us faces the inevitability of death
with or without an asteroid. Society's steady dissolution is a major
feature of the book; Palace struggles with the cynicism around him and
inside him as he pursues Zell's killer. He almost gives up. Who could
blame him? It looks just like a suicide; maybe it is.
was totally glued to this book from page one. It was a staff pick of a
fellow bookseller and I'm so glad she recommended it because I don't
think I would have picked it up otherwise. I liked the combination of
pre-apocalyptic science fiction and crime, and the setting of small-town
New Hampshire was perfect. When the world ends, it won't just end in
New York City; it'll end for all of us and Winters makes us consider the
figurative impact of this asteroid through different levels of society
and in places that don't normally come to mind when we think of
catastrophe. And he wraps it up in a truly riveting mystery that will
keep you guessing. Highly recommended!
P.S. Volume 2, Countdown City, is out now; there is no release date that I know of for #3 but I plan to read them together. I have to know how it all ends!
FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.