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The Last Policeman by Ben Winters

The Last Policeman (edition 2012)

by Ben Winters

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
87711610,108 (3.85)1 / 152
Title:The Last Policeman
Authors:Ben Winters
Info:Quirk Books
Tags:Fiction, Read in 2012

Work details

The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters

  1. 20
    Countdown City by Ben H. Winters (sturlington)
    sturlington: Countdown City is the sequel to the Last Policeman
  2. 00
    We all looked up by Tommy Wallach (meggyweg)
  3. 00
    The Fractal Murders by Mark Cohen (JanesList)
    JanesList: I can't explain quite why, but these two detectives remind me of each other.

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Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: 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?

My Review: I just loooooooooove it when the author, while playing fair with me, still surprises me with the solution to the crime(s). Mr. Winters has done this, and to a very satisfying T.

As apocalyptic tales go, this is one of the few that doesn't make me wrinkle my nose and schplurgle my lips in distaste. I completely buy that, facing extinction, the privileged population of the US would go all Bucket List and do all the stuff they didn't or couldn't before The End was writ large across the skies. It seems solipsistic, selfish, and inconsiderate...pure-D Murrikin behavior. But even with The End coming, gun-hoarders are seen as nutballs, just like they are now. I can believe this.

I also completely understand Henry Palace, our detective, staying on the job. He loves the job. He needs a challenge so he doesn't go nuts. He believes in a large, abstract greater good called "Justice" and he doesn't think that a little detail like the impending end of the world diminishes the need for and the right to Justice.

Gag...I'm making him sound like some kind of Eagle Scout...if it helps dispel some of that distasteful miasma, he also sleeps with a key witness. What ensues from that has to be read to be absorbed, especially in light of the killer's identity.

Off to pick up book two for some bedtime reading! ( )
  richardderus | Oct 3, 2015 |
I was actually weighing giving this a higher grade but, upon reflection, the case itself actually wraps up a little too messy for me. The resolution, that is, was just a bit… unclear. I think that might be my failure as a reader (and/or sunstroke) but I was watching the whole thing wrap up and wondering “Wait, really? That’s it?” because it just seemed so… Well, I just didn’t follow Hank’s final jump in logic. But the conclusion itself made sense once we got there – and it was a stark reminder of just how the world might look if/when this all goes down. And that psychological impact far outweighs any issues I might’ve had with the story, because I will not sleep well tonight for having read this book… and that’s kind of great.

More at TNBBC: http://thenextbestbookblog.blogspot.com/2014/05/drew-reviews-last-policeman.html
and RB: http://ragingbiblioholism.com/2014/05/15/the-last-policeman/ ( )
  drewsof | Sep 30, 2015 |
Bleh! Double bleh! The premise is interesting, but the coverage was spotty. The range of peoples' choices seemed all pretty pitiful. I could envision a world that finally got its act together.
Story inconsistencies: Everyone was checking out of society in some fashion, yet services and consumerism continued. No canned goods? Well, what were people eating then? Suicides for the life insurance? Nope, insurance companies guard against exactly this scenario.
Main character is pretty clueless and has to be fed all his clues. Depressing ending. There are more of these books? No thanks, I'll pass. ( )
  2wonderY | Sep 21, 2015 |
I've been meaning to read this for ages and I'm soo glad it finally happened. What have I been waiting for?!? The premise is that the world is coming to an end. Literally. There is an asteroid headed for Earth and there is only about 6 months left before it hits and takes humanity with it. Most people have decided to quit their jobs and do everything on their bucket list now that the end is in sight, but not Detective Hank Palace. Even though the world is ending he still insists on doing his job, upholding the law and solving murders. When he finds yet another suicide, he isn't convinced there wasn't foul play involved. The other other cops can't understand why he even cares, it looks like a suicide and that's enough for them, but not for Hank. Intricately woven and full of plot twists, this book is a must read. I can't wait to read the rest of the trilogy! ( )
  ecataldi | Sep 18, 2015 |
I'm not sure if I was given enough clues to figure out whodunnit, but the author gets a high rating for painting a mood of despair before it turns full-blown crazy, which I expect it to do by the end of the second book.

I could not resist comparing this to Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. The Last Policeman is its own book but I wish it had brought in a little more the likelihood that the meteor will almost surely come apart during entry and there will be multiple strikes. But we shall see.

I will definitely be reading the rest of this series. ( )
  Tonestaple | Jun 7, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Winters, Ben H.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Horner, DoogieDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McGurk, John J.Production managersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pushnik, JonathanCover photosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Even for Voltaire, the supreme rationalist, a purely rational suicide was something prodigious and slightly grotesque, like a comet or a two-headed sheep." -- A. Alvarez, The Savage God: A Study of Suicide
"And there's a slow, slow train comin', up around the bend." -- Bob Dylan, "Slow Train"
To Andrew Winters, of the Concord Winters
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I'm staring at the insurance man and he's staring at me, two cold gray eyes behind old-fashioned tortoiseshell frames, and I'm having this awful and inspiring feeling, like holy moly this is real, and I don't know if I'm ready, I really don't.
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Book description
What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die? Detective Hank Palace has asked this question ever since asteroid 2011L47J hovered into view. Several kilometers wide, it’s on a collision course with planet Earth, with just six precious months until impact.

The Last Policeman presents a fascinating portrait of a pre-apocalyptic United States. Industry is grinding to a halt. Most people have abandoned their jobs. But not Hank Palace. As our story opens, he’s investigating the latest suicide in a city that’s full of suicides—only this one feels wrong. This one feels like homicide. And Palace is the only one who cares. What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die?

The Last Policeman offers a story we’ve never read before: A police procedural set on the brink of an apocalypse. What would any of us do, what would we really do, if our days were numbered?
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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.… (more)

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