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.
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.
The lead character's constant declarations of "holy moly." Brutal.
And the narrator was whiny and annoying, which made the bad book even worse.
Certainly not the sequel to this book.
Whiny delivery that made the lead character seem like a simp.
I would've tried to make the characters more realistic instead of goofy cartoons. This was just a bad book all around.
This book fails as a both mystery novel and a sci fi novel. It's so below average. The poor narration is just the final nail.
I listened to this book for a book club and do not imagine that I would have found it otherwise. I enjoyed the story of a dystopian earth which had no science fiction elements. The story line was was very modern and realistic. What if a good man was a police officer during a global, societal melt down. How does he fare, does he fall apart or keep going. How will he cope while fabric of society unravels? I enjoyed observing his difficult journey. you retn
Great character development and a well written murder mystery works in any genre!
The twists and turns were both unexpected and intriguing, leaving me wanting more. I am glad this is a trilogy.
First time listener to Berkrot's narration. He captured the heart of each character as he gave them a voice.
No. The novel moved well through the plot line, never easing up.
Long term book junkie only recently addicted to audio books. Now my iPod and I are inseparable.
The world is ending. Everyone will be dead soon. Everyone knows that. Everyone reacts to it differently.
Hank Palace, recently promoted to his dream job of homicide detective, decides to carry on investigating murders. Or perhaps it's more accurate to say that it never occurs to him to stop.
His focus, his need to follow the rules, his quiet persistence in his task, affects the people around him, making them uncomfortable, or bemused, or sometimes even hopeful.
This is not a Summer Blockbuster Movie "end of the world" novel. There are no aliens, or zombies. Our hero is not trying to save the world in the next 48 Hours. He's not even trying to save himself. He just wants to do his job as well as he can.
Actually, Palace doesn't have much of a life to save. He's a loner and a misfit. Not the charismatic kind that you find in buddy-cop movies, but the slightly embarrassing to notice kind of loner that people avoid either because that kind of isolation might be contagious, or because of an Uncanny Valley Effect that says that, although Hank looks normal, there's something a little off about him that's hard to take.
On the surface, nothing much happens in this book. There is a murder and a mystery, actually more than one mystery, and love and betrayal and lots and lots of deaths but the book feels almost horrifyingly tranquil.
Ben Winters' writing is first-rate: economical, precise and quietly clever. Peter Berkrot's narration in the audiobook amplifies this by being undramatic without being flat or dull.
When I first finished the book a couple of months ago, I gave it a three star rating on goodreads.com but I couldn't bring myself to write a review. I felt as if I'd finished the book but it hadn't finished with me.
I found my mind returning to it over the following weeks and slowly articulated to myself why the book wouldn't leave me alone. It's because, without the intervention of an asteroid, everyone's world is ending. We will all be dead relatively soon (I'm fifty-seven, neither of my parents made it past sixty-nine, death's wingéd chariot is starting to tailgate me). We all know it. We all react to it differently. All that Winters' changed in his novel is that everyone is going to die at more or less the same time.
The strongest message I got from his book is that most of us get through the day because we believe there will be an infinite number of tomorrows, or at least too many to have to worry yet, and if we do get that "any day now" warning, we know that the world, and the people we care about, will go on. Which makes what happens to us today, bearable. Which takes away the need to think about why I spent today on a train for four hours to spend tomorrow in meeting with people I don't know so I can make the same journey back tomorrow night.
I'm an Atheist by conviction. I believe that done is done. I know I'm going to die. I don't believe there will be an accounting. No reward. No punishment. No anything. I thought I understood what that meant but I think I was still holding out on myself until I read Winters' book.
The people around Palace are making choices. Some of them are pursuing bucket-lists like the activities still matter to them, like goals have any meaning any more. Some are losing themselves in drink or drugs or sex or all three. Some of them are just lost, shocked, adrift, almost dead already. A few, a very few, carry on doing the things they love: making the perfect cup of coffee, or doing what it takes to solve a murder. I realize that I and the people around me, all of us, are acting out these reactions to our impending ending everyday, we just make ourselves forget about it.
Ben Winters' has taken all this "normal" getting-through-the-day behaviour and put it in a setting that makes it problematic, thereby making our seen-but-too-familiar to be noticed reactions visible.
This is what was unsettling me about the book: it was giving me a lens to see that, in many ways, the end of the world really is nigh and I'm plodding on like I don't have a choice.
Anyway, I've upgraded my goodreads rating to four stars, bought "Countdown City", book two of the trilogy and I've written this review to exorcise my discomfort.
If you're in the mood for some uncanny reality, give "The Last Policeman" a try.
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