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The Last Policeman Paperback – 10 Jul 2012

4.1 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Quirk Books; First Printing edition (10 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594745765
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594745768
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.1 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 222,698 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

A promising kickoff to a planned trilogy. For Winters, the beauty is in the details rather than the plot's grim main thrust --Kirkus Reviews; STARRED review--Absolutely outstanding...this gets the higest recommendation I can give. Buy it. --Classic Mystery, June, 2012---Normally, only Stephen King and Dean Koontz can suck me into a book and not release their stranglehold until I, exhausted from lack of sleep, have turned the last page. Now [Ben Winters] has joined their ranks... The Last Policeman is extraordinary as well as brilliant, surprising, and, considering the circumstances, oddly uplifting --Mystery Scene magazine, July, 2012----set in a world not too different from our own, with one major difference. A 6.5 km asteroid is on a collision course with Earth, and within six months the vast majority of life on the planet will be wiped out, with the few human souls that survive the coming apocalypse living in permanent winter where the light of the sun will not penetrate the layers of debris thrown into the atmosphere by the impact. The infrastructure that so many of us rely on is, slowly but surely, breaking down. People are quitting their jobs to spend time with their families, or to fill their last days with their 'bucket list' fantasies. Fuel and food are scarce. The electricity supply and mobile reception are sporadic, and getting worse as more people abandon their jobs and repairs to these core services are ignored. Suicide is so frequent that the police no longer bother investigating them. Against this background, we are introduced to Detective Hank Palace. Hank has only been in the job for a few months, the resulting promotion because of an older colleague quitting to become a 'bucket lister'. When Hank is called to a probable suicide in the toilet of a McDonalds, it seems like an open and shut case. But something about the case does not sit well with Hank. He thinks that a murder has been committed and spends the book struggling against a tide of apathy to try and prove that his instincts were right. The Last Policeman is a fascinating novel. I honestly can't ever remember reading a book that dealt with the way that society falls apart in the face of impending apocalypse before, and it makes for a very compelling read. The characters are all well drawn, and the sense of defeat for almost every person in this world, as they wait for their inevitable demise is a palatable force that drives the narrative along. While the main plot of the book is fairly standard police procedural fare, the descriptions of society in terminal decline are absolutely riveting. This novel is apparently the first of a trilogy, and in truth, I really cannot wait for the next instalment. --Starburst Magazine, August, 2012-----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? ........ 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. 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. .....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 Eloquent Page, Sept, 2012

spinetingelingly brilliant.... --Readitdaddy, Feb, 2013--- The Last Policeman takes its high-concept premise and runs with it until it s breathless. It s part detective story, part mystery thriller, part science fiction tragedy, with more than a hint of romance, a sprinkle of dark comedy and a dash of investigative noir. The ticking clock of the rapidly approaching asteroid 2011GV1 and its effect on the world serve as a backdrop rather than the focus as with all good science fiction, The Last Policeman uses its basic premise to scratch at much more difficult questions beneath the surface. This is a genuinely engaging mystery novel that boldly asks us to consider what life is worth, and what truly defines us as individuals. The first in a planned trilogy, The Last Policeman not only presents a brilliant premise it executes it to perfection, remaining able to surprise and delight until the very last page. Undoubtedly one of 2012 s greatest works of literary fiction, riding shotgun in Henry Palace s department-issued Chevrolet Impala is a ride well worth taking --alternative magazine online, 2012 -- plotting is sure-footed and surprising...Ben H Winters reveals himself as a novelist with an eye for the well-drawn detail, Slate, 2012 -- sets a despondent detective on a suspicious case - while an asteroid hurtles towards earth, Wired, 2012-- I love this book. I stayed up untill seven in the morning reading because I could not stop. Full of compelling twists, likable characters, and a sad beauty...is a gem--San Francisco Chronicle, 2012-- explores human emotions and relationships through situations that would be impossible (or, worse yet, metaphorical) in literary fiction. This is a book that asks big questions about civilisation, community, desperation, and hope. But it doesn't provide big, pat answers--io9, 2012-- A solidy plotted whodunnit with strong characters and excellent dialogue...the impending apocalypse isn't merely window dressing, either: it's a key piece of the puzzle Hank is trying to solve. This memorable tale is the first of a planned trilogy -- --Booklist, 2012

This thought-provoking mystery should appeal to crime fiction afficianados who like an unusual setting and readers looking for a fresh take on apocalypse stories -- Library Journal, 2012-- ...spins a wonderful tale while creating unique characters that fit in perfectly with the ever-changing societal pressures...will have readers eagerly awaiting the second installment--New --New York Review of Books, 2012--

About the Author

BEN H. WINTERS is a New York Times bestselling author and an Edgar Award nominee. His novels include SENSE AND SENSIBILITY AND SEA MONSTERS (Quirk 2009; 10+ weeks on the NYT list), the Edgar-Award nominated YA novel THE SECRET LIFE OF MS. FINKLEMAN (HarperCollins 2009) and most recently BEDBUGS (Quirk, 2011), which was hailed by VANITY FAIR as a diabolical tale of paranoia. Ben lives in Cambridge with his wife and three children.


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Format: 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.
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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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Now here's an interesting question; what would you do if you knew that the world is coming to an end in six months time? Would you carry on working? Have you got enough money to stop working? Bucket list? Got the money? Petrol is not available to the general public - nobody's producing it any more, what's the point? Cycle everywhere? Food is rationed because no-one wants to work in the fields, so you can't eat your favourite meals until the end comes. There's really only one penalty for crimes... and guns have been banned. Drugs and drink will numb the daily pain but how do you get hold of them? ...Or you could turn to religion.... Or, like detective Hank Palace you just carry on working because that helps you through from day to day.
In "The Last Policeman" suicide is the preferred choice of many, and in Concord the preferred manner of suicide is hanging. Palace is called to an apparent suicide in the restroom of a McDonald's but something about it all doesn't feel right... cue story because “The end of the world changes everything, from a law-enforcement perspective.”
I loved the book. It read well. The story flowed and this dystopic world sucked me in. And what a world... it felt empty, cold. It was winter but there was another coldness, that of a world with no future, no hope... only a cold asteroid plummeting towards Earth through cold, empty space. I could identify with Palace, his motivation, his frustration... He isn't a Dirty Harry, he's not a hard man steamrolling his way towards conclusion... There's a gentleness about him. He probably would never have become a detective if it hadn't been for the asteroid. But he's the right man at the right time and in the right place, staring at a corpse with a belt round its neck.
Would you commit suicide... Me, I'm too much of a coward, says one of the characters and you start to ask yourself questions... What would you do if you knew that the world is coming to an end in six months time?
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