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.
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.
Introverted, educated, research nerd. Mostly sticks to fiction, and pretty happy with the decision.
The plot and circumstances of this book (namely, how society deals with the knowledge of its own eventual demise) are thought-provoking and well captured. I was chewing on some aspects of this story long after finishing the book.
Berkrot's narration is a little off, though; the story is told from a first-person perspective of a 27-year-old detective, but his voice suggests a much older, more experienced fellow. I often had to stop and remind myself that the character was my own age - not only for the main character, but some of the supporting characters as well.
I liked the plot, but I think this is the kind of book I would have enjoyed more reading rather than hearing. The narrator's voice just didn't match what I thought the main character should sound like.
Yes, but I would probably read it rather than listen to it, unless it's a different narrator.
The voice was too light weight for the gravitas of the main character. I understand he was young, but the stolid way he thought and acted called for a voice with more resonance.
I downloaded this as a change from my usual fodder. It sounded interesting. That was the only reason. Actually its a very good book, well written, narrated and I think it would be fairly realistic for the situation. Its very much a SF book but full of suspense. I look forward to book two.
The main character, the newbie detective working under such difficult conditions. The narration is so good that you can picture the main and other characters.
I think overall the book flows with all scenes being well written and narrated. The number on the box.
Yes I would prefer to listen to it all, but it is easy to remember the storyline if you do need a break.
Keep an eye on this author and narrator.
I've been a cop for 18 years. The cops in this book are out of a 60s comic book. Hollywood has a better grasp and it sucks.
Disappointment. Premiss was great.
Got this audiobook for a road trip. It was a fun listen. Pretty simple and straight forward. Love the concept.
The plot was alright. I was hoping for a bit more, but all in all, it was a good romp and I'll be looking forward to the next installation in the series.
This is the first Peter Berkrot performance I've listened to.
It made me want to watch my noir classic films.
I'm a professional dog trainer who loves to read. I have degrees in English and Adult Ed. I love well written books that take me away.
Loved this well crafted, well written, thought provoking, and engaging take on a classic who-done-it. Well worth the listen. Wish there were more like it.
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