The last policeman

Ben H. Winters

Book - 2012

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FICTION/Winters, Ben
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Subjects
Genres
Mystery fiction
Published
Philadelphia : Quirk Books c2012.
Language
English
Physical Description
316 p. ; 21 cm
ISBN
9781594746741
9781594745768
1594745765
Main Author
Ben H. Winters (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Postapocalyptic novels are a dime a dozen, but how many good preapocalyptic novels can you name? Set six months before an asteroid will smash into Earth, this one definitely qualifies. Surprisingly, despite the premise, it is essentially a mystery. Hank Palace hasn't been a detective very long, but one thing he's learned is that when someone is murdered, the guilty party should be brought to justice. But first Hank has to convince his superiors that the man found hanging in a public washroom wasn't a suicide (which, of late, has become a pretty popular means of escaping the imminent destruction of the world). The story could easily have been played as a comedy—Winters, author of the mash-up Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, would have had no trouble there—but, instead, it's a solidly plotted whodunit with strong characters and excellent dialogue. But the impending apocalypse isn't merely window dressing, either: it's a key piece of the puzzle Hank is trying to solve. This memorable tale is the first of a planned trilogy. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

If an asteroid were hurtling toward Earth, guaranteed to destroy everyone on the planet in a few months, what would happen to the concept of law and order? Det. Hank Palace is determined to keep doing his job in a world counting down the days. (LJ 7/12) [Page 56]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Newly promoted Concord, NH, detective Hank Palace is investigating a suspicious death that may be a murder or might be part of an epidemic of suicides. Both the promotion and the suicides are rooted in the fact that an asteroid is on a collision course with Earth and will destroy all life in a few months. Palace faces indifference from many of his colleagues who don't see the point of solving one death when everyone is under the same sentence. Winters (Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters) has crafted a compelling mystery with surprising twists and turns, but more impressively he has created a world slowly collapsing under the prospect of its imminent demise. The responses of individuals, institutions, and governments to the threat from the sky are all considered in the context of Palace's murder investigation. VERDICT This thought-provoking mystery should appeal to crime fiction aficionados who like an unusual setting and readers looking for a fresh take on apocalypse stories.—Dan Forrest, Western Kentucky Univ. Libs., Bowling Green [Page 63]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

An apocalyptic premise and a knotty murder mystery collide in the first title of a planned trilogy from Edgar Award-nominee Winters (Bedbugs). Considering there's an enormous asteroid (nicknamed Maia) on course to destroy earth within six months, suicide by hanging has become the preferred way for many to bow out before the party's over. But when insurance man Peter Zell is found hung inside a McDonald's men's room stall in Concord, New Hampshire, his neck through an upmarket belt, something about the scene makes detective Hank Palace suspect murder. A young, idealistic, by-the-book cop and a no-nonsense narrator, Palace sets out to find Zell's killer and bring about justice one final time—even if it's literally the last thing he does. Winters' bleak vision of a pre-apocalyptic society is laced with malice, unrest, and indifference. The economy spirals out of control, workers ignore their jobs, and Palace's colleagues on Concord's gutted police force urge him to drop the case and stop caring so much. But Palace refuses to let the future control his present, emerging as a likeable hero of the end times. A divergent subplot involving Palace's ex-girlfriend, his sister, and her radical conspiracy-theorist husband slows down the story, though its inclusion may be featured more prominently in the sequels. (July) [Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC

Review by PW Annex Reviews

An apocalyptic premise and a knotty murder mystery collide in the first title of a planned trilogy from Edgar Award-nominee Winters (Bedbugs). Considering there's an enormous asteroid (nicknamed Maia) on course to destroy earth within six months, suicide by hanging has become the preferred way for many to bow out before the party's over. But when insurance man Peter Zell is found hung inside a McDonald's men's room stall in Concord, New Hampshire, his neck through an upmarket belt, something about the scene makes detective Hank Palace suspect murder. A young, idealistic, by-the-book cop and a no-nonsense narrator, Palace sets out to find Zell's killer and bring about justice one final time—even if it's literally the last thing he does. Winters' bleak vision of a pre-apocalyptic society is laced with malice, unrest, and indifference. The economy spirals out of control, workers ignore their jobs, and Palace's colleagues on Concord's gutted police force urge him to drop the case and stop caring so much. But Palace refuses to let the future control his present, emerging as a likeable hero of the end times. A divergent subplot involving Palace's ex-girlfriend, his sister, and her radical conspiracy-theorist husband slows down the story, though its inclusion may be featured more prominently in the sequels. (July) [Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

When the Earth is doomed by an imminent asteroid collision, 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.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

“A genre-defying blend of crime writing and science fiction.” –Alexandra Alter, The New York TimesWinner of the 2013 Edgar® Award for Best Paperback Original!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 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. 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?

Review by Publisher Summary 3

“A genre-defying blend of crime writing and science fiction.” –Alexandra Alter, The New York TimesWinner of the 2013 Edgar® Award Winner for Best Paperback Original!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.   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?