The Last Policeman

The Last Policeman

Book - 2012
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When the Earth is doomed by an imminent and unavoidable asteroid collision, New Hampshire homicide detective Hank Palace considers the worth of his job in a world destined to end in six months and investigates a suspicious suicide that nobody else cares about.
Publisher: Philadelphia, Pa. : Quirk Books, c2012
Description: 316 p. ; 21 cm
ISBN: 9781594745768
1594745765
Branch Call Number: Wint

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SCL_Justin Jul 28, 2017

It's fairly rare for me to read a straight-up mystery (and not some sort of science fiction noir type thing) but that’s exactly what Ben Winters’ The Last Policeman is. A man died in the bathroom of a McDonald’s. The newly-minted detective is the only person who doesn’t think it was a suicide. Investigation ensues.

The only complication is that in just over 6 months the world as we know it will end when Earth is hit by a huge asteroid.

So the book is a twisty little mystery involving insurance fraud and drugs and bad coffee in police briefing rooms, but also a look at why even do police-work when the world will soon be ending. Who really cares how one person ended up dead when six months from now everyone will be.

Now that little complication might, in your mind, vault the book into the science fiction category, but it really isn’t. The asteroid is affecting people because they’re all aware of their mortality, but it’s not causing tidal waves or changing the weather or making people flee to the Himalayas or shooting Bruce Willis off into space. It’s something that’s happening, just like war is something that happens in other stories.

I really liked the book even though it’s not my usual science fiction and in spite of the fact it’s the first in a trilogy. (SPOILER: The case is resolved and the book ends still many months before the asteroid hits, leaving room for the next books to remain pre-apocalyptic).

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Ghettostone
Jan 24, 2017

Kansas City Public Library- former leader of "Best Sellers" Book Club, found this book cover and title interesting didn't think too much about it, but WOW, a mystery murder case while the world is ending and nobody is don't their job anymore except this dedicated police officer who unravels a conspiracy! This accidental joy created such a stir with the group, that we immediately request other Ben Winter titles. Another unanimous agreement from the diverse Best Sellers Book Club! We highly recommend this title! Enjoy!

h
htliang
Feb 16, 2016

This was a refreshing change from the usual murder mystery (or science fiction) novel. A huge asteroid is hurtling towards earth and will hit in about six months time. Civilized behavior is starting to unravel; the economy is also in disarray. Detective Hank Palace continues working in the adult crimes division as he tries to determine if a "hanger" was actually murdered. A "hanger" is a person who had committed suicide by hanging - a popular form of death in this particular town. Perhaps Palace is just putting his head in the sand by continuing to live life just as he did before the news of the asteroid collision, or maybe he is the only one handling the crisis in a positive way.
I am interested in reading the next two books in this series: Countdown City and World of Trouble. There is also talk of the novels becoming a television series. Ben Winters also wrote "Bedbugs".

n
Nachusa
Nov 07, 2015

One of the best detective novels I have read.

KateHillier Oct 01, 2015

This one that kept popping up for me and something that I always ended up putting up on the back burner. I am very, very pleased that I finally read the thing. At first glance it's a standard sounding police procedural mystery. There's a suicide that Detective Hank Palace is convinced is actually a murder and his superiors are not supportive of him at all. It's one man standing for truth and justice against the odds. Sounds very generic except for one big thing: in the world of this novel there is an asteroid that is for sure going to hit the Earth and kill everyone in six months. People are running off to do what they always wanted to do, society is basically crumbling in this knowledge, and so everyone doesn't bother investigating suicides anymore since everyone really does it.

Palace's commitment to truth seeking and justice is especially admirable and special here in a world where the unspoken question is "why bother when we're all going to be dead soon anyway?" Palace treats this fact as more of an inconvenience and not as any sort of excuse not to do his job. A job that is in fact what he has always wanted to do.

It's a gripping novel and I am thrilled to see that it is a trilogy. Sign me up for the next two please!

m
mawall
Aug 31, 2015

This was a slow read. Interesting concept but writing style was hard to follow. I plan on reading the two other books.

j
jkating
Aug 03, 2015

Much better than I expected. The story is engrossing and well-written.

l
loudem
Mar 17, 2015

This book isn't going anywhere but for the end which is a bit muddled. The comet intrigue isn't any part of the story either. Kind of a very unsteady balance between boring, very boring and not very exiting.

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billmacrotarian
Jan 06, 2015

I started The Last Policeman but stopped reading when I found out it was written in the first person, present tense. This type of writing is utterly lazy. Therefore, I stop. I don’t read anymore.

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BWilsoned
Jan 04, 2015

After accidentally picking up the third in this trilogy, I quickly sought this first volume out. An asteroid is threatening Earth, with landfall in six months, but that doesn't keep Hank Palace, newly-minted police detective, from doggedly pursuing what he believes to be a murder investigation. Everyone around him says, nope, it's just another "hanger", but Palace is convinced and spends his time tracking down the truth of the matter. Apparently Winters has written some comedic stuff, and Library Journal insists he doesn't take it too far in this series, but there are quite a lot of witty sections.
"Skeve (guy's name) is not any kind of terrorist. He's an idiot" --Hank
"The overlapping Venn-diagram section of those two categories, you will find, can be quite large." --Hank's ex-girlfriend, conveniently working for a "secret" government agency.

"Yeah, good collar. Except where you shot the guy to death." --Chief Ordley

"The suspect attacked me with a scale model of the New Hampshire state house." ---Hank's internal dialogue, which he wisely chooses not to share

At the end of the book, the Concord (NH) police department is being militarized, so it looks like Hank's out of a job. I'm not sure I'll continue with the series, but I do kind of want to see what Hank will get up to next.

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mrjmoskau
Aug 12, 2014

mrjmoskau thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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