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The Last Policeman (The Last Policeman #1)

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  11,243 ratings  ·  1,739 reviews
What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die soon, anyway?

Detective Hank Palace has faced this question ever since asteroid 2011GV1 hovered into view. There’s no chance left. No hope. Just six precious months until impact.

The Last Policeman presents a fascinating portrait of a pre-apocalyptic United States. The economy spirals downward while crops rot in t
Kindle Edition, 322 pages
Published July 10th 2012 by Quirk Books (first published 2012)
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Collin Carefoot As a cinephile as a well as a book reader, I always ponder what the film version would be like. I personally think John Krasinski would be good in the…moreAs a cinephile as a well as a book reader, I always ponder what the film version would be like. I personally think John Krasinski would be good in the role of Hank Palace and Natalie Dormer as Naomi Geddes. That's as far as I've gotten.(less)
Mya Carinha I would probably go bucket list and spend as much time with my family as I can.
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Community Reviews

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(I originally rated this three stars but after completing the entire trilogy and getting a much better idea about the character of Hank Palace, I've boosted it to four.)

Three men are playing cards when someone runs up and tells them that the world is ending. The first man says, “I’m going to go pray.” The second man says, “I’m going to get drunk and sleep with six whores. The third man says, “I will finish the game.”

I learned that little parable from Young Guns 2, and I kept thinking about it wh
Dan 1.0
When Detective Henry Palace is called to the scene of an apparent suicide, he can't shake the feeling that it's murder. But with an asteroid due to hit the Earth in six months, no one really cares and with the infrastructure crumbling, Palace has his work cut out for him...

It's taken me way too long to give Ben Winters' existential detective tale a shot. I'm kicking myself for it but the upside is the second book is already out and the third comes out in two months.

The Last Policeman could easil
from my blog at

Imagine Spin (my review) crossed with The Manual of Detection (my review) and a suicide investigation. As interpreted by Kant. What do I mean? Consider:

An asteroid is heading toward Earth. Fast and large, the power of its collision with Earth will cause an explosion “equaling the blast force of a thousand Hiroshimas,” and the shock waves will cause tsunamis and earthquakes worldwide. Even worse, the resulting environmental destruction wil
The Last Policeman is Ben Winters' attempt to tackle the incredibly popular dystopia subgenre in a new and interesting way. A man is found hanged to death in a McDonald's bathroom, a rookie detective thinks it was murder, but nobody else cares because The Earth is about to be wiped out by an asteroid.

Taking a hardboiled character, placing him in a (loosely) science fiction setting and giving him a mystery to solve doesn't sound too innovative I know, but the aspects of a society that's having a
I've been wanting to read this book for a while, especially since several of my friends have given it good reviews. The premise of a world on the brink of apocalypse and the societal breakdown because of that sounded really intriguing. So when I saw it on sale at Audible, I picked it up.

And that's about the time that this book peaked for me. *sigh* Right off the bat I realized that audio isn't the format that I should have gone with on this one. The story is told via first person limited narrat
James Thane
This book has the most intriguing premise of any that I've read in a long while. Set in the not-too-far-distant future, it features Hank Palace as a fledgling detective in Concord, New Hampshire. One night, Hank is called to the scene of a suspicious death in the restroom of a McDonald's restaurant. An insurance man named Peter Zell is lying on the floor with an expensive leather belt wrapped around his neck. The other end of the belt is tied to the handicap grip bar next to the toilet, and the ...more
Emma Sea
I did enjoy this, and I will read the sequels. The length was perfect: I was just beginning to be a bit over when it wrapped up. Going on for longer would have decreased my rating. I liked the writing, and the MC's voice.

Do I sound a little underwhelmed? It was good, but not as good as I hoped.

I think one of the disappointments for me was the depiction of a pre-apocalyptic United States. For other readers this might be more compelling.

I grew up in the 70s and early 80s. True story: when I was 1
Althea Ann
Read in one marathon sitting! It's not too often I actually do that, but the fact that I was compelled to brings this mystery up to 5 stars.

This was my post-apocalyptic book club's selection for the month. Technically, it's actually a pre-apocalyptic novel. It's been announced that in six months, an asteroid will hit the Earth. Faced with imminent demise, people are falling apart. Social structures are gradually breaking down. Everywhere, people are taking off, quitting their jobs, aiming for t
Dᴀɴ 2.☢
HOLY MOLY! A giant asteroid is about to destroy the planet! Oh Thank Heavens, LOOK its Batman to the rescue! Oh wait noooooo, it’s just this doofus dunce. Whoops. Well, in my defense, their back stories were nearly identical, but still…my bad. Oh and who can be bothered to save the world anyway when there’s this pointless suicide murder to solve, that no one, but our intrepid hero, seems to give a rat’s ass about.

Here he comes now, all 6 ft 4, gangly, socially awkward, rumpled suit, but bright
An asteroid is on a collision course with Earth. The impact will annihilate most of the world’s population and those that do not die immediately will suffer immensely through resulting earthquakes and ash clouds. Folks are quitting their jobs, running off to do things they've always wanted to accomplish before the end of the world. Others are committing suicide, unable to bear the enormity of the situation, wanting to check out before the big day.

Then there are people like Detective Hank Palace
I heard about this book on a Guardian Books Podcast, and it sounded interesting enough for me to pick up one afternoon when I needed a book to fend off the boredom of a grocery store line. It did that job quite well, but ...

... But it didn't do much else.

I'm a bit of a fan of asteroid-slamming-into-Earth-end-of-days stories. I guiltily admit that I love Michael Bay's (or is it really J.J. Abrams?) Armageddon -- so much in fact that I use it to introduce Marxist Theory to my first year students
Julie Davis
I'm rereading this for an upcoming discussion on SFFaudio. The audiobook which is simply excellent. And it's been simply terrific the second time around. I think I have to up this from four stars to five.

My original full review is below.
The date that everybody knows is October 3, six months and eleven days from today, when a 6.5-kilometer-diameter ball of carbon and silicates will collide with Earth.
Reading this book, I mused that perhaps all this science is not the best thing for
Sunday afternoon, I arrived at the Seattle train station, with a book I thought would last me the two days of my quick trip. I was wrong, and I finished it on the train. What's a girl to do? Confessional: I should have frugally started the bundle of short stories I downloaded last week (Thanks Tor! Happy Anniversary!) but with the Seattle Mystery Bookshop practically around the corner? How could I not stop in?

Last time I was there I picked up one of Margaret Coel's mysteries, and loved i
James Renner
It’s been awhile since I’ve come across a concept so tight and perfect that I had to immediately seek out the book and devour it. But when I heard the pitch for The Last Policeman — a young detective investigates one last murder before the end of the world — I was taken. Usually I’m a little disappointed by these impulsive reads. But goddamn. This one is everything I dared hope for.

I actually listened to the audio version of the book on a 2,000-mile journey around New England during the reportin
Jenny (Reading Envy)
What would you do if you knew the world was ending in six months? Hank Palace decides to keep doing his job as a police detective in Concord, NH.

The first third and last chapter of this book were my favorite parts - the world, the crisis, the lack of seeming hope. And then it ended with some questions I'm interested in and hints of other things going on that I'm unclear on, so I will probably read more books in this series.

The rest of the book is very much a crime, police procedural novel. Well
Oct 08, 2012 Judi rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Guy Savage
Shelves: read-in-2012
A police procedural, with a noir bent, set in NH (my home state)... Detective Henry Palace is a new Detective with the Concord NH Police Department. He is called to a scene at a McDonald's bathroom in which a man has hung himself by tying a belt around his neck and leaning forward, a method commonly used these days. The world is positively ending in October when an asteroid is due to hit earth, 7 months away.

"People in the main are simply muddling along. Go to work, sit at your desk, hope the c
If a huge asteroid was heading towards earth threating to destroy all mankind, what would you do? Would you even bother to continue working? Would you worry about solving a crime? Detective Hank Palace is determined to solve a suspicious suicide even when the rest of the world doesn’t care in this apocalyptic whodunit, making him The Last Policeman.

I love the idea of blending apocalyptic fiction with a pulp type crime novel. The world is in decline and Hank Palace has only just made detective. S
The publishers summary will give you all you need to know about this book. I couldn't say it better. What I can tell you is that I liked this story about a cop who maintains his moral self in the worst of times. Detective Henry Palace is a man I'd like to know and one who could make the last days of life worth living. The mystery was secondary for me. There is a sequel which I may not read as I thought the uncertainty of what might come was a fitting end.
Nancy Oakes
Oct 14, 2013 Nancy Oakes rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: dystopia fans, crime fiction readers
Recommended to Nancy by: Ben H. Winters
for a longer look at the first two books in this series, and the series in general, click here; if you're content with a brief look, keep reading.

okay...a 3.75 rounded up.

With an asteroid only months away from crashing into the earth, the number of suicides around the world has skyrocketed. In Concord,New Hampshire, where this book is set, many of them are by hanging. So when a guy has been found dead with a belt around his neck in the men's room of a McDonald's, it seems like it's just anothe
Sean Lockley
I've read my fair share of mysteries, and I've watched a lot of cop dramas on both television AND movie screens, and if there's any immutable fact that I've learned it's that a good homicide detective is either a hard-boiled alcoholic deadbeat or an emotionally scarred veteran of some conflict ('Nam, the Gulf, et al.). Henry Palace, the protagonist and titular last policeman, is none of the above. In fact, he's about as far from those detective tropes as you can get and at first I found him, and ...more
This book combines two of my favorite genres, sci-fi and mystery and it adds a little crazy in the mix as well. What makes the mystery intriguing is the setting in which it occurs; just months before the end of the world. What would life on earth be like if we had undeniable, empirical evidence that an asteroid is going to hit and destroy earth within a year? It is during such a setting that our protagonist, a newly appointed police detective lands a case of a suspicious death at a local McDonal ...more
Ryan G
I'm not normally a huge fan of apocalyptic fiction, though I guess this could be called pre-apocalyptic. Most of what I've read in the genre is too heavy and depressing or so far fetched that I can't take it seriously. I think the only two I've ever really enjoyed are The Road by Cormac McCarthy and Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank, both of which were preblogging days. And while the premise of this book was interesting, I'm not sure that would have been enough to sell me on the idea.

I guess you could
A nicely executed apocalyptic mystery novel. A police procedural that pits an honest and well meaning young detective trying to do his job against a world facing immanent destruction. The premise is great, the main character is nicely drawn and very sympathetic. The mystery, eh. The mystery is no great puzzler, but hey, you have to admire anyone who bothers to solve any crime in a world where justice is no longer a viable precept of civilization.
Bryan Alexander
"I had to kill her."
"No one has to kill anyone."
"Well, soon... soon, they will."

Before reviewing this book, I must offer two caveats.
1) I am woefully underread in the mystery genre.
2) I live in Vermont, which makes it nearly impossible to say anything good about the nearby, lesser state of New Hampshire.

Given those hedges, let me explain why I liked this novel.

The Last Policeman is a hybrid novel, structurally a police procedural, but also a science fiction tale. For the former, it concerns d
Kristin  (MyBookishWays Reviews)
You may also read my review here:

In six months, earth is going to be hit with an asteroid, estimated to destroy over half of the population of Earth, and Detective Hank Palace thinks he’s probably the only cop left that cares anything about solving cases. Concord, New Hampshire has come to be called “Hanger Town” in reference to the overwhelming suicide of choice of its citizens. When he’s called to the scene of a man that has supposedly hung himself in a
I read this in one three hour sitting after being unable to fall asleep again having been shocked awake by a nightmare most likely caused by ill-advised complimentary coffee at 5 PM.

Nice Guy Noir, I suppose is one way to put this. A man; polite, pragmatic, thoughtful tries to convince the rest of the police organization in Concord that a suicide isn't a suicide but rather a murder. The issue is that no one really cares as they have more pressing concerns, that of a 6 kilometer wide meteor which
I don't know what was more fascinating - the mystery itself, or the idea of our world on the brink of destruction. Every character in the book acts out in response to this circumstance in a different way, and all the way through I couldn't help but wonder which one, if any, I would choose. What is clear is there are not many who respond like Henry Palace. There's a definite feel of truth to the nature of this slow slide into apocalypse - every other end of the world book implies a surprise, some ...more
This doesn't fit the profile of a book I'd read (the author brought home his bacon with the mash-ups Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and Android Karenina), but hey... we share the same last name, so I had to give this a try. Plus, it's an interesting exercise to think about how I would react to the news that the Earth is going to explode in the near future.

It's pretty interesting and surprisingly well written. I don't usually care much for mysteries, especially of the hard-boiled variety,
Chris Dietzel
I'm not much for detective stories but I enjoyed Winters' take on the genre, set during mankind's impending extinction. Part of what I enjoyed so much was that the story always remains one of realistic characters acting the way people really would in their circumstances; the story stays rooted to human nature instead of relying too much on the apocalyptic scenario. I also enjoyed the running theme that no matter how unlikely the odds, everything has to happen eventually.
I believe a good mystery should feature an engaging puzzle that the reader really wants to solve and interesting three-dimensional characters. Unfortunately, for me, this book had neither. The crimes and the motive behind their commission was routine and the solution unsatisfying. But even more disappointing was the poor character development. Given the end of the world aspect of the story, one would have expected the author to provide interesting character studies to go along with the mystery. ...more
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“Because as any writer will tell you, an IDEA for a book is like falling in love, it’s all wild emotion and headlong rush, but the ACTUAL ACT of writing a book is like building a relationship: it is joyous, slow, fragile, frustrating, exhilarating, painstaking, exhausting, worth it.” 16 likes
“He books it into that little playground there. I mean the guy is zooming like the Road Runner, skidding through the gravel and the slush and everything. I’m yelling, “Police, police! Stop, motherfucker!”

‘You do not yell, “Stop, motherfucker.”’

‘I do. Because you know, Palace, this is it. This is the last chance I get to run after a perp yelling, “Stop, motherfucker.”
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