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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The World is Ending. What do you do?
This book may win the prize for the most intriguing premise of the year. If you knew that the world was going to end would you keep on doing the job that you do now?

Detective Henry `Hank' Palace is a man with on a mission. As the world is falling apart round about him, he tries to focus one hundred percent on the job in hand. As time passe, it becomes...
Published on 28 Aug 2012 by Pablo Cheesecake (The Eloquent...

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars I *so* wanted to be able to give this book a higher recommendation
This is a fast read, decently-written and with an interesting premise: an Extinction-Level-Event is going to occur in 6 months when an asteroid collides with Earth.

As would be expected, news of the impending end-of-the-world has resulted in a planetwide breakdown in social structures, including law enforcement. Many police have resigned or retired to pursue...
Published 3 months ago by illegiblescribble


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The World is Ending. What do you do?, 28 Aug 2012
By 
This review is from: The Last Policeman (Paperback)
This book may win the prize for the most intriguing premise of the year. If you knew that the world was going to end would you keep on doing the job that you do now?

Detective Henry `Hank' Palace is a man with on a mission. As the world is falling apart round about him, he tries to focus one hundred percent on the job in hand. As time passe, it becomes increasingly difficult for him to do this as more of the local population become apathetic towards anything other than their own wants and needs. This is where I think The Last Policeman really excels. Winters gripping prose drip feeds the reader details of the inevitable collapse of society. Events begin with just a few subtle hints of how bad things have become, but as time creeps ever forward you get a real sense that the situation is only going to get worse. Some give into their own melancholy, while others try to put a brave face on it. Through all this Detective Palace remains resolute.

Where I was surprised is that as the plot continues to unfold, there are some nice unexpected moments that force events off on completely different tangents. Winters plays with the readers expectations and I'll admit there were a couple of moments that managed to catch me completely off guard. The thing to remember is that normal rules no longer apply, and character motivations are entirely different from what you would expect in a standard murder mystery.

It'll hardly come as a surprise when I tell you that this sort of story prompts a certain amount of introspection? I think there would have to be something seriously wrong with you if you didn't start pondering what you would do in this situation. Could you maintain some semblance of normality or would you throw it all in to follow your dreams while there was still some time left? It's not often that a crime novel leads to that sort of internal debate.

The good news is that there are another two novels set to follow on from The Last Policeman. One set three months before the asteroid is due to hit and one set in Earth's final month. I have to admit that I am already insanely curious about what is going to happen. There is a sub plot concerning Hank and the relationship he has with his sister, Nico. Both their parents are already dead and Nico is the only family that Hank has left. She is involved with some potentially shady people and there is a suggestion that there is a huge conspiracy going on. I do hope this is something that is explored in the other two novels.

Winters has left just enough loose ends in the plot to keep this reader interested. He has crafted a story that manages to avoid being entirely downbeat or pessimistic and instead offers just the smallest glimmer of hope. I have to admit that I kind of liked that. I'll be checking these out as soon as I can get my hands on them.

The Last Policeman is published by Quirk Books and is available now. Recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable, well written police procedural with a nice contextual twist, 24 Aug 2012
By 
Rob Kitchin - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Last Policeman (Paperback)
Hank Palace has achieved his life's ambition to become a police detective in the small town of Concord. Unfortunately his promotions coincides with news that Earth is going to be hit by 6.5 kilometre wide asteroid travelling at speed. In the months before the coming apocalypse the economy has unravelled, some people have found religion, others are making plans to try and survive, or have given up work and are living one long party. And some are not waiting to find out if humanity will survive and are taking their own lives. One such man, an insurance actuary, has seemingly hung himself in a McDonalds' toilet stall. But Palace is not convinced. The world might be about to end in six months time, but he's going to continue to his job regardless of the general apathy and lack of resources. And if foul play is involved, he's going to make sure the perpetrator witnesses the event from behind bars.

The tag-line for The Last Policeman is `what's the point of solving murders if we're all going to die soon, anyway?' It brings an interesting twist to the story, providing an unusual framing. Otherwise, this is a straight up-and-down police procedural where Palace uses his skills and wits to piece together and solve a mystery puzzle. The construction of the story is well done, with Palace being misdirected or led down dead-ends, slowly working out the reason for the death. The characterisation is a little thin especially beyond Palace, suffering I think from the first person narrative, but it's made up for in the plot and premise. There was also more scope to explore the nature of a pre-apocalyptic society and elaborate some philosophical musings on the meaning of life and the human condition. However, the premise is used much more as context, rather than as foil. That's fine, but I felt it was a missed opportunity. Overall, an enjoyable, well written police procedural with a nice contextual twist.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars clever mystery set in a pre-apocalyptic world, 24 Sep 2012
This review is from: The Last Policeman (Paperback)
Less than 6 months from now a very large asteroid called Maia will hit the Earth and over half the World's population will be killed in the impact with the rest living in an icy world thereafter. By April the impact site will be known to an accuracy of 15 miles. Concord in New England has become "Hanger city" as a number of suicides have chosen to take their lives through asphyxiation. When Henry (Hank) Palace discovers a hanger in a McDonalds rest room he thinks it's a suspicious death but has problems convincing his colleagues, the DA, the Coroner etc. Against the background of increasing religiosity, creeping despair and people "going bucketlist" Palace doggedly persues his hunch. A couple of things dented my enjoyment of this book which are perhaps less to do with the writing than my own issues. Firstly it's the first in a trilogy and the world will no doubt be more coloured in in later episodes and secondly I couldn't help but compare to the stunning "end of science fiction" which is very similar but in my opinion works so much better. I think if I'd come to the last policeman first I would have enjoyed it more perhaps. Another very minor problem I had was that they knew the date the asteroid would hit, they'd modelled it's trajectory and yet they didn't know where it would hit? I'm not sure this is plausible and it felt as though the location was kept unknown purely for narrative tension.
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3.0 out of 5 stars I *so* wanted to be able to give this book a higher recommendation, 22 July 2014
This review is from: The Last Policeman (Paperback)
This is a fast read, decently-written and with an interesting premise: an Extinction-Level-Event is going to occur in 6 months when an asteroid collides with Earth.

As would be expected, news of the impending end-of-the-world has resulted in a planetwide breakdown in social structures, including law enforcement. Many police have resigned or retired to pursue their Bucket Lists -- and as a consequence, Patrolman Hank Palace gets his dream promotion to Detective.

Unsurprisingly, suicides are on the rise -- so much so that they are no longer being investigated. But when Palace gets called to yet another self-hanging, something just doesn't seem right. Instinct and several small anomalies convince the detective that this was a murder -- and he doggedly pursues an investigation as the world continues to go to hell around him.

The writing and plotting are solid and the story kept me interested. I also give the author high marks for not "pulling an Agatha Christie" (finessing a solution out of thin air, which the reader could not possibly have reached by the clues given).

But... with such a tantalising setup and a flawed-but-really-likeable main character, I was really expecting -- hoping -- that the answer to the mystery would be interesting, rather than incredibly mundane, as it turned out to be. There was so much potential, but then the book just turned out to be an ordinary mystery placed in a science-fictional setting.

I enjoyed the book, and don't feel that the time I spent reading it was wasted. But what a disappointment, that the author didn't capitalise on the potential for a truly remarkable mystery.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional - I really enjoyed this, 25 Nov 2012
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I was delighted by this book. Acquired after I read a very positive review on BoingBoing, I read through it very quickly and thoroughly enjoyed the way Winters entirely subverts the detective genre. His exploration of motives - the fact that the main (first-person) character is clearly holding his own despair at arm's length by focusing obsessively on his work - is beautifully enhanced by multiple apparent dead-ends, a nicely subverted romantic relationship, and a sibling relationship that clearly has much to reveal over the next couple of novels (the main character's sister isn't just psychotic, she's also a mathematician - so there's clearly plenty of food for entertainment there, although judging by Winters's approach, he's going to play with our expectations along this particular plotline, too).

I recommend this book to anybody who enjoys detective fiction, but also loves to see the genre subverted with such loving confidence!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Original and at once familiar, 15 Feb 2014
By 
Iosaiph (Gloucester, UK) - See all my reviews
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A police procedural set in a pre-apocalyptic world, with a hero who's most explosive expletive is 'holy-moly'! An unlikely combination for success but it is successful, a riveting, enjoyable teasing whodunnit that keeps you going to the end. Very, very good.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, 2 July 2013
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Clever, and as many twists as Michael Connolly. Nice price as well. Not paying full for the others yet, I'll wait till they come down as well.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not Impressed, 1 Sep 2014
This review is from: The Last Policeman (Paperback)
After finishing this book, I wondered why I had wasted my time reading it. Not a good sign. The fact that a giant meteorite is going to hit the earth is, despite it being the raison d'etre of the book, is an irrelevance, presumably incorporated to make the book stand out as 'something different'. The bottom line is that it's a fairly average detective story.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Premise over plot, 13 July 2014
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I’m a big fan of grand ideas being conveyed with only a little push here, a little show there, some necessary tell elsewhere but the reader being trusted to fill in the gaps and connect up the dots themselves without being led by the nose through every single aspect and development. In this regard, Ben H. Winters has done a marvellous job of selling a world in which everything is steadily crumbling, and rather gracefully charts the efforts of one man who sees no other option but to stay sane in the middle of all the madness.

Henry Palace is a very noble man, possibly an idealist, possibly a little naive, and there is something really quite lovely about his determination to get to the bottom of an apparent suicide while everyone else is more fixated in the asteroid due to strike the Earth in six months. While one might expect a cynical noir-ish antihero in these circumstances – carving their way through the filth and the hedonistic scum and all the foulness around them, the last sane man, etc, yawn – Palace is if anything simply a little bewildered: out of his depth following a sudden promotion to detective, the butt of frequent jokes from his few colleagues over his insistence on pursuing this case, and the contrast sets the book in a very affecting subcategory of crime fiction that’s all the more enjoyable precisely because you’re not sure where to place it.

It’s such a shame, then, that the plot never really gets going. Obviously the suicide will turn out to be a murder, otherwise there’s no case and Palace is simply to be pitied, but it’s a startlingly long way into the book before this is confirmed. And while Winters has a good raft of possible suspects, the final motive doesn’t quite hold together for me, and the whole affair turned out to be decidedly less clever than I was expecting. When the actions of other characters given the context of the book overshadow the driving narrative, something is wrong with your plot. That happens here, and it’s a real shame.

There are two more books to go, however, and while I’m sure they’ll fill things out nicely, this should really still stand on its own merits. I’ll probably read them in due course, and I’ll definitely follow whatever Winters does now he’s finished with this trilogy, but my enthusiasm is a little dimmed given the promise shown here that isn’t quite fulfilled.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting premise and good story, but ultimately left my unfulfilled, 23 Feb 2014
By 
Cpl Hicks (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Last Policeman (Paperback)
The Last Policeman is a relatively short read, and deals with some really interesting concepts. How would civilisation survive, and in particular what the effect on law enforcement be, if the world was about to end?

However, the actual story - a detective noir-type thriller - is less interesting. Although it occasionally flirts with the central hook about the world ending, it doesn't depend on it. This is ultimately what disappointed me - I wanted more of this central concept. I understand that is is part of a trilogy, so perhaps the ideas in this book will be developed further later.
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The Last Policeman
The Last Policeman by Ben Winters (Paperback - 15 Aug 2013)
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