The Last Policeman

The Last Policeman

eBook - 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 : Quirk Books, c2012
ISBN: 9781594745775
1594745773
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Call Number: eBook

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IndyPL_SteveB Mar 16, 2019

An unusual mystery with a science fiction twist, and winner of the Edgar Award for best paperback original mystery. First of a series.

Hank Palace is a young police detective. He was recently promoted to his dream job but it looks like it is really a dead end. The Earth is threatened by the impending impact of a six-kilometer wide asteroid and it looks like a sure hit in six months. It might not kill everyone; but it is likely to destroy civilization. Threatened with doom, people are leaving their jobs, spending all of their time drunk or drugged out, communing with nature, or getting deeply involved in religion or paranoid conspiracy groups. Hank is one of the people trying to hold the community of Concord, New Hampshire together; but most of his activity is dealing with suicides. One day he discovers a suicide at the local McDonalds; but it doesn’t look right. He’s sure it’s a murder but he can’t get anyone to care. If everyone is going to die in 6 months, what is one more murder or suicide?

This is a genuinely original mystery novel -- the very first pre-apocalyptic detective story. It works as a mystery; but it also addresses the deeper concerns of our fears and motivations by looking at what might be most important if everyone thought they were under a death sentence.

Tigard_HalstedB Jan 17, 2019

I was fascinated by the premise -- solving murders in the dimming light at the end of life on Earth -- and ended up enjoying the protagonist immensely. The mystery part was a little thin, but still enjoyable. I will probably read the rest of the trilogy.

r
raechick
Jan 04, 2019

What would you change about your life if you only had six months to live? What would happen if the whole world only had six months left?
This is a thought provoking combination of two great genres: apocalyptic and detective stories.

d
dnooner
Dec 03, 2018

This book is the first of a remarkable and intriguing trilogy that draws you in from the first page and keeps your attention riveted until the final conclusion. Incredibly well written...you can almost reach out and touch the characters.

s
skyekilaen
Oct 13, 2018

An engrossing pre-apocalyptic series about the world's impending end from a foreseen asteroid strike, how society reacts to that knowledge, and how people become a distilled version of themselves in terrible circumstances. It's a mystery focused on Hank Palace, promoted from beat cop to detective as people in his police department started walking off the job, in a world where solving murders seems meaningless to many. It has a bit of noir feel to it, and the end of the trilogy doesn't pull any punches, but I did feel a sense of peace at the end even though I was, honestly, sad. If you're at all interested in how societies break down, and how people step up (or don't) in those times, this is a great read for that.

CRRL_MegRaymond Dec 18, 2017

Is the suspicious death a suicide? There have been many of them since the announcement that an asteroid is set annihilate the Earth in a matter of months.

s
sandraperkins
Sep 09, 2017

This book is incredibly depressing. The concept is interesting: How would you live your life if you knew a giant asteroid would hit earth in six months? Because the entire world knows this will happen, civilization is falling apart long before the asteroid hits. The protagonist of the book is a young police detective, still on the job, who is determined to solve a crime and bring the person responsible to justice. (Though everyone else in the book seems to think it hardly matters, as everyone is going to die anyway.)

I really did not care about any of the characters, and the hopelessness that people experienced facing the end of the world was really draining. Personally, our current times provide more than enough depressing news without looking for more in fiction. I am not going to read the rest of this trilogy and I am going to avoid apocalyptic fiction, at least until our real news cheers up (which does not look likely any time soon).

a
abcedmillered
Sep 06, 2017

Would you try to solve a murder if you knew the planet was going to be destroyed in a few short months?

I liked this not for the characters, but for the whole psychological aspect of how one would live one's life knowing that the Earth will most definitely be destroyed. Puts faith to the test! Fascinating way to shake up a straightforward mystery novel.

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).

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".

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mrjmoskau
Aug 12, 2014

mrjmoskau thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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