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The Last Policeman: A Novel by Ben Winters

The Last Policeman: A Novel (edition 2012)

by Ben Winters

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7829911,788 (3.87)126
Title:The Last Policeman: A Novel
Authors:Ben Winters
Info:Quirk Books (2012), Edition: First Edition, Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:home, fiction, science-fiction, mystery, read, read20121214

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. 10
    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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Showing 1-5 of 100 (next | show all)
Interesting and different, police procedural set in a most unusual time, which effects all the actions and motivations throughout the story - but I'm not sure really make sit a better book.

Hank Palace is a newly promoted detective in Concord. He's only served two years as a constable but the 'times' have opened up vacancies and as he seems to be the only police officer still concerned with conscientiously doing his job, to avoid dis-harmony with his colleagues he fulfils one of his childhood dreams but not as he'd expected. The 'times' are the end of the world. A previously un-spotted asteroid has finally been confirmed it's orbit will be co-incident with earth in about 6 month's time. The months of doubt and uncertainty that precede this announcement and any of the excitement this causes are all glossed over, and only occasionally referred back to. Instead the book focuses on the changes this has made to people's motivations. How few people are still fulfilling their jobs, and the difficulties this causes in social order. Many people leave to fulfil their fantasies, abandoning partners colleagues and anything to drift on beaches climb mountains or whatever. Others of course can't cope, and commit suicide. Police policy - overwhelmed by many other concerns - is not to investigate these cases. But one a shy and cliched accountant found hanging in McD's toilets doesn't seem right to our Hank, and so we have a story. Hank of course is not a brilliant detective and overlooks some angles that should have taken more importance as he later realises. He also doesn't have much in the way of infrastructure to help him. However he does at least have the threat of imprisonment. Who would want to spend their last days in prison - the fate of anyone arrested for even the most trivial crimes. However many people's motivations have changed and it's hard for Hank to adjust to this new way of thinking.

Carefully crafted, and almost believable at times, it's also slow and difficult to follow all of the misdirections Hank goes through. None of the supporting characters really help this process and seem somewhat stereotypical. Very different to any crime story you've read, but not yet quite SF or Dystopia. ( )
1 vote reading_fox | Jan 11, 2015 |
Detective Hank Palace may be the only police officer who still cares about fighting crime in the face of world destruction. After it is revealed that a giant asteroid will be making impact with the Earth in less than a year, most people have given up working to pursue early retirement and complete their bucket lists. Even those still working have lost interest in doing their jobs because it all won't matter at all in just a few months. After relentlessly pursuing his dream of becoming a detective, however, Hank is still committed to doing his job to the best of his ability. Others on the department see Detective Palace as an oddball, as he doggedly pursues leads to what he thinks is a potential murder disguised as a suicide. As he seeks out the truth behind the "hanger at the McDonalds," real life apocolypic limitations continuously get in the way, such as poor phone connections, transportation problems (limited gas), and the constant changes of a legal system and government trying to rapidly adapt to the increased crime and chaos associated with the coming end of the world.

After reading quite a bit of dystopia/apocolyptic fiction, I found this mystery quite entertaining. Hank is an enjoyable character, simplistic in his desire for order and truth, but also caring and compassionate. The way the story was written made it seem realistic, which lead to the reader's pervasive sense of dread, but it was also told with humor and wit, which balanced out the darker themes. I am greatly looking forward to reading the 2nd and 3rd books of this trilogy. ( )
  voracious | Jan 4, 2015 |

Fun read. Great concept and lead character. Good airplane book. ( )
  lincolnpan | Dec 31, 2014 |
Hank Palace, a police detective in Concord, New Hampshire, is investigating the death of a man who was found hanged in a McDonald's bathroom. His fellow police officers are certain it's a suicide, and with good reason: an asteroid is hurtling towards Earth, and collision is both certain and imminent. As a result, suicides are on the rise, along with a variety of other behaviors. Some people are "bucket listers," quitting their jobs to chase their lifelong dreams while they still can. Some people turn to religion, others to drugs. In these circumstances, one more dead man -- especially one who appears to have hanged himself -- doesn't matter very much to the police. But Hank suspects that there's something wrong about this suicide, and he's determined to discover what really happened. He uncovers several more mysteries in his investigation, including a hidden cache of drugs and a beautiful woman who knows more than she's saying. But the biggest obstacle of all is the widespread indifference to his quest. If the end of the world is imminent, does one potential murder even matter?

This novel is an interesting combination of two popular genres, the police procedural and the apocalyptic novel, and I think it's a fairly successful one. Hank Palace is a dry, unintentionally funny narrator who manages to retain some of his ideals despite the cynicism of his surroundings. Even though he knows that life is about to change forever (assuming life will continue at all after the asteroid hits), he remains devoted to his job. But the world of this novel is even more interesting than its narrator. I think the various reactions of people in the book to the impending catastrophe are very plausible. And the details Hank lets slip about the new role of government are as realistic as they are chilling. In this world, every crime is punishable by death or life imprisonment. There is no habeas corpus, so anyone suspected of lawbreaking is condemned without trial. The US Constitution is still the law of the land, but it's impossible to enforce -- and most government officials and police officers don't really care. Overall, I was fascinated by the setting of this novel and will eventually continue with the series to see what hapepns.
  christina_reads | Dec 10, 2014 |
Ben Winters poses a thought-provoking question: If you know the world is about to end, does justice still matter? In six-months, the asteroid Maia will strike the Earth and humanity's time will be over. Suicide has become epidemic. However, rookie detective Hank Palace is sure the man he has found hanging in a public washroom isn't actually a suicide but a murder. Despite the approaching apocalypse, and despite his apathetic superiors and coworkers, Hank is determined to get justice. In a world that has given up and is spinning out of control, Hank refuses to let the future, or the past, control his present. This trilogy continues with Countdown City.
1 vote ktoonen | Dec 10, 2014 |
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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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