Winters, Ben H., (c. 2012). The Last Policeman. Quirk Books. 288 pages , $23.95.
With only six months before the asteroid destroys the earth, Detective Hank Palace can’t ignore the superstitious death of local man whose hanging seems out of the ordinary.
In six months an asteroid, nicknamed Maia, is going to hit the earth destroying everything for hundreds of miles. The problem is, no one knows exactly where its going to hit but they know its coming. Newly promoted Detective Hank Palace understands why people around him have given up on their careers to fulfill their personal bucket list but its harder for him to deal with those that have given up permanently. Concord, New Hampshire has been dubbed “Hanger town” because that seems to be the trend for dealing with the inevitable impact of Maia. But when insurance man Peter Zell is found hung with an up-market belt in the stall of a McDonald’s bathroom, Hank suspects that something more is in play. Surrounded by people that don’t understand why he even bothers, Hank doggedly pursues the leads in a town that is ready to die.
This is a first novel of a trilogy that deals with a town that is preparing for destruction. Although the pace is a little slow, the premise is enough to propel the reader through the intricacies of the crime. Winters successfully illustrates the diversity of human reactions to this apocalyptic threat. Some are permanently checking out, others are living life to the fullest, while even more are despondent and unsure of how to act. And then there is Hank Palace, a man who takes his job seriously and won’t let a six-month sentence stop him from doing what he believes to be the right thing by his community. Side stories including Palace’s ex-girlfriend, his sister and her radical husband may detract from the story a bit but it is a trilogy so their introduction may be necessary for the continuing story. This is an easy book to recommend to those that enjoy a mystery but want something a little more to think about.
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Book Discussion Questions:
1. Describe Hank Palace’s character. Why does he feel compelled to continue with his job while everyone else is “cashing in”?
2. Concord, N. H. has become a “hanger town”. Why this method over any other?
3. If you had only 6 months until the world ended, realistically, what do you think you would do?
4. How does Winters effectively develop the feel of this pre-apocolyptic world?
Reasons for selection:
Another on Nancy Pearl’s “Gift Book” list for 2013, this first in a pre-apocolyptic series intrigued me from the start. Plus, the movie rights had just been bought so I knew it was going to be a popular series as the movies came out and working in a Public Library you need to stay on top of that stuff.