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The Last Policeman (The Last Policeman #1)

3.76  ·  Rating Details  ·  14,698 Ratings  ·  2,076 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
Paperback, 336 pages
Published May 13th 2013 by Quirk Books (first published July 10th 2012)
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MadProfessah I'm actually picturing Hank as that tall awkward guy from SILICON VALLEY..I just googled him and he actor's name is ZACH WOODS.

I think the next most…more
I'm actually picturing Hank as that tall awkward guy from SILICON VALLEY..I just googled him and he actor's name is ZACH WOODS.

I think the next most important character is actually the sister...(less)
Jackie I wouldn't bother finding a way to prevent the end of the world if it were ineluctable. I would instead live every day as I normally do, taking…moreI wouldn't bother finding a way to prevent the end of the world if it were ineluctable. I would instead live every day as I normally do, taking pleasure in reading as many books as possible, playing as many games as possible, and watching as many shows as possible.

Of course, my answer would vary depending on the exact meaning of "the end of the world". If the universe were to suddenly collapse, then nothing could be done to prevent it; if the world as we know were to suddenly end yet we were still clinging to life somehow, then some measures could be taken to ensure self-preservation; if the university entrance exams were coming in 6 months, then our world might end but the world around us might not.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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May 05, 2014 Kemper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(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 Schwent
May 15, 2014 Dan Schwent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
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
Mar 28, 2016 Carmen rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
"I don't know." I shake my head slowly, look out the window at the parking lot, lift my cup of coffee for one final sip. "I feel like I wasn't made for these times."

"I don't know, kid," she says. "I think maybe you're the only person who was."

This book was not at ALL what I expected. Not at all. A mystery/science-fiction mashup, Winters is creating a determined police detective who still remains focused on his job even as the world is crumbling around him - a little less than a year when the ast
Richard Derus
Mar 22, 2016 Richard Derus rated it really liked it
Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: 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 the fields. Churches and synagogues are packed. People all over the world are walking of
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
Dec 10, 2013 Tfitoby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
James Thane
Dec 15, 2013 James Thane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
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
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
Althea Ann
Aug 19, 2014 Althea Ann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Ɗắɳ  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
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
Jun 06, 2015 Maureen marked it as dnf-did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
WOAH second book I've ever DNF-d and it comes within a week of each other! I guess that first book liberated me to DNF alllll da books.
I was attempting to read this for #TBRTakedown and LOOK HOW WELL THAT TURNED OUT. I probably could finish this, but I honestly have no desire to. The concept and overall story set up was so interesting, but the rest of the novel (that I read) has been a bore. The murder mystery part was slightly interesting but at this point I don't care to find out and spend my
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
James Renner
Apr 03, 2013 James Renner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Julie Davis
May 27, 2014 Julie Davis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Aug 13, 2013 Stacey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Stacey by: Seattle Mystery Bookshop
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
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
Oct 04, 2014 Carol rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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.
Oct 08, 2012 Judi rated it it was amazing  ·  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
João Carlos

"O Último Policial"/"The Last Policeman" (The Last Policeman, #1) (2012) é o primeiro livro de uma trilogia escrita pelo norte-americano Ben H. Winters (1998) a que se seguem "Countdown City" (The Last Policeman, #2) (2013) e "World of Trouble" (The Last Policeman, #3) (2014).
A premissa inicial de "O Último Policial" é muito interessante e original: dentro de seis meses o asteróide 2011GV1, denominado Maia, com cerca de sete quilómetros de diâmetro, vai colidir com a Terra e, muito provavelment
Ryan G
Aug 21, 2012 Ryan G rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sean Lockley
Jan 17, 2014 Sean Lockley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 14, 2014 Anmiryam rated it really liked it
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.
Timothy Ward
The Last Policeman was a clever mashup of post-apocalyptic chaos in the calm but mysterious path of a detective who chooses doing what he does best while the rest of the world waits to die. From the first page to the end, Ben H. Winters proved to be an author I’ll keep on my short list for stories that are easy to enjoy, have more than meets the eye, and deliver on mystery, humor and emotion. I love post-apocalyptic stories, and this story hit that sweet spot, though in a bit different way than ...more
So if we all knew the date that the apocalypse was going to happen, how would society react? Well I think The Last Policeman has done a Stirling job answering this question. Ben H Winters has managed to fill this books with characters who provide a fairly representative cross section of society, those who will commit suicide, those who will throw caution to the wind and live up those last days, the always in attendance conspiracy theorists, those who will murder, and importantly for this book, t ...more
Mar 30, 2014 Banner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, mystery
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
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
Aug 05, 2014 Bobbi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Other Books in the Series

The Last Policeman (3 books)
  • Countdown City (The Last Policeman, #2)
  • World of Trouble (The Last Policeman, #3)

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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.” 17 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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