July 3, 2012

Book Review: The Last Policeman

What would you do if you knew the world was ending?

What would you do if the date of the world's end was only six months away?

Would you keep working, keep continuity in your life? Would you run away and see the world before its demise?

Or would you kill yourself, afraid to stick around until the bitter end?

The Last Policeman
Ben Winters
 Page Count: 288
Available July 10, 2012
via Quirk Books
Those are the questions you're asked, continually, while reading The Last Policeman, the latest offering by novelist Ben H. Winters, due out via Quirk Books on July 10. (To see the awesome book trailer, go here.)

In it, a massive asteroid tumbles relentlessly on a path that will collide with earth. Physicists can predict the date of impact, and they're working on the area. The world economy has all but shut down; people abandon their job posts in order to enjoy their little bit of remaining life. Martial law is in effect in many places, while guns and drugs climb high on the rungs of the black market ladder.

In this world lives Henry (Hank) Palace, a young policeman who made detective shortly before things started to fall apart.

Hank, though...he refuses to fall apart. Refuses to give up. When a standard-looking suicide case doesn't smell quite right, he flouts the wishes of his superiors and continues to investigate. They frequently remind him he's wasting his time.

The Last Policeman is a traditional mystery/suspense/whodunit set in a sci-fi world, and it was a roller-coaster of a read.

I'm not typically one for the whodunit set, but for me the pull of a sci-fi world at the END of the world was undeniable. Each little snippet of life pre-impact felt insightful. Each time the asteroid was mentioned, my stomach churned a little.

Because...

What WOULD I do? How WOULD I protect my own child from the end of the world? How WOULD I say goodbye to a life I love?

Heady stuff for a whodunit, don't you think?

So, the mystery part was secondary to me, sure. 

But still, it was still pretty exciting. I turned pages compulsively, finishing the story in just a few short days, because I had to know: was the suicide a murder? Why would anyone kill an unassuming risk assessor? And for whom the hell is Hank's bizarre-o sister, Nico, actually working?

The Last Policeman is the first in a trilogy, and Winters left enough loose ends that I want to keep reading.  I'll look forward to the next book, and hope to get some answers from it.

In short, this is a great read - I enjoyed the whole experience.

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