Home > 2014/15 Reading List, Advance Review Copy, Books, Fiction, Other People's Stuff, Something Like a Review > Something Like a Review – The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters

Something Like a Review – The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters

I will be the first to admit that I have a particular affinity for Quirk Books. Their sense of humor and mine are pretty well-matched, so when they offered me a chance to read and review The Last Policeman series by Ben Winters, I jumped at it. I had been interested in the first one when it came out, but school being what it is, I didn’t run to get because I didn’t need a distraction. With a light(er) course load now, I took my chance.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I will be doing a little countdown of my own to celebrate the release of the newest book in the series on July 17th. Look for the second installment bright and early on Sunday, July 13th (no, I won’t be getting up early, I just scheduled it that way. Ahh, technology…).

To risk sounding as if I’m waxing poetic, let’s just say that this book was pretty much a perfect fit for my interests. How could I not love it? The world is ending, and not just the slow (likely) death of destroying our habitat, or the sudden catastrophic end of nuclear war, but the conscious impending obliteration by asteroid 2011GV1, better known as Maia. With six months left until impact, the world and what we know as civilization is in a downward spiral and even though many are questioning or ignoring the rules that governed society, Hank Palace isn’t giving up so easy. 

I was pleasantly surprised to see it was set in Concord, NH, a city that doesn’t get enough attention for the colorful setting and characters therein. It’s been a while since I’ve spent any real “quality” time there, so I can’t say for certain if he’d gotten the details right, but there are enough that are true and long-standing enough that I recognized this world, though warped by an impending death sentence. Not only that, I could believe Hank as a New Englander, a level-headed, salt-of-the-earth type still doing his job, still doing what’s right while half the world is intent on pursuing their bucket list before the end. When confronted with a suicide, he’s not content to accept it at face value, pursuing the truth in spite of the impending end of the world. He investigates the lost life to uncover the real story.

I won’t give it away, but there is valor in Palace’s pursuit, and the adventure gives insight into this pre-post-apocalyptic world that made me want to look deeper into it and see more of it. Not only did I think Hank was believable and real, I found myself imagining that I knew the cop he’d been based on, though my real-life Hank Palace was from a different town and possessed a little less imagination and gumption.

The one issue I had with the story is probably more an issue with me than an issue with the story. The unraveling of the mystery and how quickly he figured the chain of events and the root of the explanation felt artificially quick, almost forced. BUT – since mysteries and police novels (procedural or otherwise) aren’t my normal reading fare, my expectation of a slower reveal and being able to pick up on and follow the breadcrumb trail may be unrealistic, making this my issue alone. Or maybe I just missed the clues. Overall, this was an enjoyable story and I was excited to pick up the next one to see what happened next, especially for the slow disintegration of a doomed society.

Medium: Dead-tree version provided for review by Quirk Books

Other: Available in various formats from Amazon.com

Overall rating: 4 stars

Potential re-read: Maybe. Knowing the end, I would like to go back and see if I can find the breadcrumb trail and determine if the resolution was as fast as I perceived it to be, or if I was just entirely oblivious (which is a significant possibility). For the “yes” side of the re-read question, I love apocalyptic fiction, and for the “no,” crime/police/mystery type novels aren’t my favorite, so while I enjoyed it, it’s not an immediate draw for a re-read.

Dead-tree worthy?: With the ever-increasing struggle for space and the wishy-washy answer regarding a re-read, I’m going to go with “no,” here. I’m being more picky with what books take up room in my life, and while I can’t justify space on the shelf, I could justify space on the Kindle, or the time to get it from the library.


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