Book Review: Countdown City

Posted June 15, 2014 by Kara in book review, Kara / 4 Comments

Book Review: Countdown CityCountdown City by Ben H. Winters
Series: The Last Policeman #2
Published by Quirk Books on July 16th, 2013
Genres: adult, mystery-thriller, science fiction
Pages: 316
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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three-stars

There are just 74 days to go before a deadly asteroid collides with Earth, and Detective Hank Palace is out of a job. With the Concord police force operating under the auspices of the U.S. Justice Department, Hank's days of solving crimes are over...until a woman from his past begs for help finding her missing husband.
 
Brett Cavatone disappeared without a trace—an easy feat in a world with no phones, no cars, and no way to tell whether someone’s gone “bucket list” or just gone. With society falling to shambles, Hank pieces together what few clues he can, on a search that leads him from a college-campus-turned-anarchist-encampment to a crumbling coastal landscape where anti-immigrant militia fend off “impact zone” refugees.
 
The second novel in the critically acclaimed Last Policeman trilogy,Countdown City presents a fascinating mystery set on brink of an apocalypse--and once again, Hank Palace confronts questions way beyond "whodunit." What do we as human beings owe to one another? And what does it mean to be civilized when civilization is collapsing all around you?

I had such high expectations for this book. Maybe that was unfair, but The Last Policeman was just so damned good. The writing was as strong as ever, but this book didn’t work for me as well as the first. I am still strongly invested in the trilogy as a whole, and I will be reading World of Trouble pretty soon, actually. But I kind of feel like this one suffered from the second book slump. I say this KNOWING that it won the Philip K. Dick Award. But all the same, I actually think I can justify my argument with REASONS.

  1. The mystery story arc was pretty weak. I was really involved in the mystery of the first book, but this one was a missing persons case of a person that was a fully grown adult that went off on their own and didn’t really want to be found. It just wasn’t a very strong premise for me. It’s not like I wasn’t interested because I enjoyed the book to a pretty decent degree; I just wasn’t as intrigued or enraptured by this mystery.
  2. The other thing that has always been an issue for me with this series is the characters. I like them enough, but I am not attached to them. I like Hank, I find him interesting, but I do not feel like he is one of a kind or anything. Same thing with Hank’s sister Nico.

The reason why I enjoyed this enough to give it 3 stars was because of the writing and tone, hands down. The noir-ish feel is strong in this one again, and I love it. I’m a big fan of this author’s writing style and the interesting details he manages to fit into the narrative to make this pre-apocalyptic world feel oh so realistic. And that’s pretty much it I am in love with the world-building, the realism, and the intricate details. I am more than interested in seeing how this trilogy wraps up. I can’t imagine it having a happy ending, and I am wondering if it will have the devastating ending that I think it will.

It’s always hard to review books in a series without revealing spoilers, and I don’t want to ruin the case or the plot developments, but the stakes are ramped up in this one as we approach the arrival date of the asteroid. The world is changing and people are getting desperate. And in the middle of it all is Hank Palace, throwing himself into a job that no longer exists. And I guess that is one of the things I find most interesting, that he is out there solving crimes when the rest of the world is looting, hiding, murdering, committing suicide, panicking, etc. The juxtaposition is fascinating and I think I like the person that Hank is becoming.

So regardless of my issues, Countdown City is quite entertaining even though it is the weakest book in the trilogy so far. Here’s hoping that the last book is a doozy.

kara

4 responses to “Book Review: Countdown City

  1. I always get frustrated if I can solve a mystery very early in a book. Even if the story can still unfold nicely, I kind of feel cheated if it’s not mysterious enough.
    Good writing and feeling something for the characters is pretty important, though, so maybe I’ll wait until yet another book is released before I decide on this series.
    Great review, Kara 🙂
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