What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die soon, anyway?
Detective Hank Palace has faced this question ever since asteroid 2011GV1 hovered into view. There’s no chance left. No hope. Just six precious months until impact.
The Last Policeman presents a fascinating portrait of a pre-apocalyptic United States. The economy spirals downward while crops rot in the fields. Churches and synagogues are packed. People all over the world are walking off the job - but not Hank Palace. He’s investigating a death by hanging in a city that sees a dozen suicides every week - except this one feels suspicious, and Palace is the only cop who cares. What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die soon, anyway?
The first in a trilogy, The Last Policeman offers a mystery set on the brink of an apocalypse. As Palace’s investigation plays out under the shadow of 2011GV1, we’re confronted by hard questions way beyond “whodunit”. What basis does civilization rest upon? What is life worth? What would any of us do, what would we really do, if our days were numbered?
©2012 Ben H. Winters (P)2012 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
Grating narration of a weird story. Glad when it ended. Made a long car ride seem even longer.
This is the first book in a trilogy, and it has an interesting premise; Detective Hank Palace is trying to solve a murder, that may not be a murder, in a society that has changed due to an upcoming asteroid collision with Earth. I thought I knew what would happen, but the ending had a twist that was a surprise to me. I enjoyed this murder mystery in this unique societal context and am planning to finish the trilogy.
The story setting and concept were unique.
I got The Last Policeman because I saw it listed in a couple of articles featuring "uplifting books" or "books that will restore your faith in humanity." I have no idea why this book made it onto those lists. If you're looking for uplifting books you may want to look elsewhere.
I usually shy away from reads that, as an idea, seem intriguing, but in the end (or before) it is poorly executed. Not the case with this book. Loved every minute of it and the narrator was awesome.
Former Executive Producer for Adventures in Scifi Publishing.
The Last Policeman was a clever mashup of post-apocalyptic chaos in the calm but mysterious path of a detective who chooses doing what he does best while the rest of the world waits to die. From the first page to the end, Ben H. Winters proved to be an author I’ll keep on my short list for stories that are easy to enjoy, have more than meets the eye, and deliver on mystery, humor and emotion. I love post-apocalyptic stories, and this story hit that sweet spot, though in a bit different way than the zombie or alien invasions I normally read.
I enjoyed it all the way to the end, and while I’ll keep going with the series, my only criticism is that I wasn’t blown away by the mystery revelation. I didn’t predict the ending, but when the big bad was revealed and the conclusion on display, I was a little disappointed.
In this story, we have a detective who persists after a suicide he believes was a murder while suicides are rampant, this suicide appears cut and dry and everyone else is wondering why he cares. There is only a few months left before the asteroid hits, and yet he refuses to be like those who focus inwardly and pursue self gratification. I liked that about him. I would like to think I’d do the same thing, so I rooted for him, both in his pursuit of the possible murderer and motive as well as in the development of his last chance at love.
I listened to the audiobook version and really enjoyed the narrator. The writing is tight and the characters engaging. The plot is strong enough to keep it tense and provide moments of humor and emotion for an enjoyable balance of entertainment. I’m curious about how this becomes a series after what seems like a straightforward stand-alone novel. I will continue in the series, but I didn’t have to move on to book two right away.
Apocalyptic novels usually follow similar schemes, this one is no true exception, but it is not the everyday story too. I liked the beginning most which basically focus on the pre-apocalyptic situation. Then it puts the focus on the detective story bit which is good, but not exciting, from here on the plot significantly - and astonishingly - lost much pace for me. The ending / solution was an ending but nothing else. All in all: I will not continue with this series.
Narration was OK.
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.
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