An excellent story well performed. Part "end-of-the-world" novel, part noir mystery, this book delivers. The protagonist is an great character, consistently motivated and detailed. The supporting characters are equally interesting, and the mystery is a fun ride.
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
The world as we know it is going to end in six months, thanks to a six kilometer-wide asteroid that’s on course to slam into the Earth. This sort of knowledge has a way of triggering civil unrest, economic collapse, suicides, religious cults, and people living out their fantasies while the getting’s still good, and these things are happening all over the world.
However, in sleepy, unpretentious New Hampshire, people are mostly just trying to hang onto normalcy for as long as they can. For young detective, Hank Palace, promoted through the ranks after other officers “went bucket list”, the chaos of the last months offer an opportunity to live out his childhood dream of being a crime solver. When he discovers an apparent suicide, a dead accountant in a public restroom, his gut tells him that foul play is involved. Sure enough, his explorations into the man’s life begin to reveal some odd associations, as well as a mathematical obsession centered around the comet.
Despite the book’s apocalyptic themes, there’s a lot of quirky humor, which reminded me of the movie Fargo. Hank’s obsession with getting to the bottom of the “murder” has a quality of nutty desperation to it at first, but as the book progresses, we begin to see that there may be existential purpose to his belief in law, order, and decency, even as the tides flow against him. Though anarchy and martial law are both on the rise, the last days of civilization might not be altogether without hope or meaning.
When all is said and done, the crime mystery plot and its misdirections aren’t particularly mind-blowing or fresh, but were interesting enough to keep me listening. And a secondary mystery will no doubt figure into the two sequels. The characters, particularly Hank’s irresponsible younger sister, her Caucasian-dreadlocked dope of a husband, and a tough-as-nails medical examiner, are enjoyable, and I could easily see this novel becoming a TV show, as is rumored. Winters’s mix of mordant absurdity and sincerity is an appealing one. 3.5 stars.
Well narrated novel about the last man on earth who seems to care about ethics and morality while an asteroid is screaming toward earth. Highly recommended.
The audio books I get tend to be either 1) scifi or 2) things for my husband and me to listen to on long road trips--humor or history
More of a police procedural than a scifi novel, this book didn’t quite grab me until the very end, when there was a twist that convinced me I should continue on to read the next book in the series.
[I listened to this as an audio book read by Peter Berkrot. I thought he sounded a bit older than the age of the main character, but other than that did a good job.]
Berkrot is just spectacular. The story is excellent, but his performance and so much more to it.
overall i enjoyed the story. the Narrator has a breathy agressive way of delivering this story that i personally did not enjoy the WHOLE time. it has it's place but the main character was like this the entire time. i just wish the Narrator changed it up a bit. just felt like EVERYTHING was the most important which made the important parts less.
overall I enjoyed this listen
The idea of the social environment when the end of the world is nigh is nothing new to fiction, but this was a fresh perspective. It reads like a noir detective mystery rather than any other genre.
And so well executed.
I love how well the mystery unwinds while Ben Winters fills in the blanks on how the End Times is affecting everyday life.
The spoken word narrator nails the voices.
This and Osama are probably the best books I've read this year.
Narration was great, but the main character is incredibly dense. The apocalyptic background, while interesting and great for tone setting, by the end feels like a distraction from a weak detective story.