Book Review: The Last Policeman

Posted May 18, 2014 by Kara in book review, Kara / 7 Comments

Book Review: The Last PolicemanThe Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters
Series: The Last Policeman #1
Published by Quirk Books on 2012-07-10
Genres: adult, mystery-thriller
Pages: 316
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
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four-half-stars

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?

This book was just brilliant. I was asked to review the first two books of this trilogy ahead of the final book’s release, which is coming July 15th from Quirk Books. I was hesitant about reviewing this because crime fiction is not really my thing (or at least it wasn’t until Ben H. Winters. But because of the end-of-the-world slant, I thought I would give it a shot. Also, Christina at A Reader of Fictions really liked it also and I trust her opinion immensely.

So the basic premise is this. Hank Palace has just been promoted to detective three months ago. The only problem is the world is ending. It’s March, and the asteroid will hit in October. What’s the point in fighting crime when no one is going to be alive on the planet in 8 months? That’s not the perspective Palace has though. People are committing suicide left and right because they just can’t face reality, but when one hanging case seems a bit suspicious to Hank, he attempts to solve the case even when his teammates and supervisors don’t believe that it is a murder.

Meanwhile, the world continues to crash down around him–looting happens, predictions (and betting) where the asteroid will hit, everyone seems to be abusing drugs, his friends start to kick the bucket one by one, but that doesn’t stop Palace. He has a murder to solve. After all, what is life worth living if you don’t keep the meaning in your days until the bitter end?

The Last Policeman is a very simple idea which I loved. It’s easy to follow, it’s not complicated, and yet, there is so much here that makes it a fantastic story. I loved the voice of Hank Palace. I loved the noir feel. Every word on the page is one I wanted to read. I consumed this book like candy. It’s humorous, it’s serious, it’s bleak, and I loved it. This is a writer with an immense amount of talent.

Yes, it’s about a murder case, but there is so much more than that. The little details, like the coffee attendant who has cups for each continent, and customers are throwing beans in the cup of the country where they think the asteroid will hit. It’s just all very realistic to me. If the world was going to end by asteroid, this is how it would all go down. It was absolutely perfect.

Until the very end, I was going to award it the full 5 stars. So you should know how very much I loved this book. The only tiny nitpick I have is that I was frustrated I wasn’t more attached to the characters. I loved their voices and they made me laugh, but I am not overly concerned about them on a personal level. And I always look for that in my books. Obviously, it was just a tiny thing as I only took off a half star because the rest of the book was pretty special. This may be some of my favorite writing of the year so far.

I will be following up with book two in the trilogy very soon, and I can’t wait to get back to the story! Highly recommended.

kara

7 responses to “Book Review: The Last Policeman

  1. I am glad this is really good. I know I can be hesitant about adult crime fiction too, unless it comes highly recommended by a good friend.

    Also? For me, character connection is key. I’m willing to give this a shot though.

    Love the new layout, too!
    April Books & Wine recently posted…Stacking The Shelves (60)My Profile

    • Honestly, I can’t fathom anyone not finding something in this book to like. Because if you aren’t in to crime fic, the apocalyptic elements are really cool too. It’s just a really interesting book with awesome writing.

  2. I just ordered this! I don’t have the insanely gorgeous cover with the comet crashing through, but mine actually looks pretty still! Love the site redesign, looks absolutely beautiful 🙂

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