Ben H. Winters’ “The Last Policeman”…what would YOU do?

The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters; image courtesy

image courtesy

The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters; published May 13, 2013 [9781594746741]

What would you do if you knew that the Earth had less than six months until it was either completely or mostly destroyed by an asteroid? Would you stay in your current job or spend those days working on your Bucket List?

For Henry Palace the approach is to fulfill his job as a detective, which currently involves the case of an accountant found hanging in a McDonald’s bathroom stall. Since Henry is sure that the death isn’t the suicide everyone else is happy to label it, he’s compelled to uncover the truth. No one else cares whether it was suicide or not, even his bosses, so the journey is made all the more difficult. He has to know though: being a detective has always been his dream job, after all! Unfortunately, Henry is not a professional sleuth as he’s had only three month’s training in forensics… not exactly star detective material for a difficult investigation.

Ben Winters does a good job of tossing in enough tidbits of humor (Henry writing notes in bluebooks, and why he has so many bluebooks to begin with) and humanity (strong friendships with his coworkers) to add glimmers of brightness in an otherwise unbearably dreary world.

In addition to being a good police procedural, The Last Policeman is also an interesting exploration of how people might react to a non-escapable catastrophe. As you read through the book, it’s obvious that strictly adhering to the rule of law in a lawless world is Henry’s way of dealing with the stress. What would your reaction be to impending worldwide doom?



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