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The Last Policeman #3

World of Trouble

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There are just 14 days until a deadly asteroid hits the planet, and America has fallen into chaos. Citizens have barricaded themselves inside basements, emergency shelters, and big-box retail stores. Cash is worthless; bottled water is valuable beyond measure. All over the world, everyone is bracing for the end.

But Detective Hank Palace still has one last case to solve. His beloved sister Nico was last seen in the company of suspicious radicals, armed with heavy artillery and a plan to save humanity. Hank's search for Nico takes him from Massachusetts to Ohio, from abandoned zoos and fast food restaurants to a deserted police station where he uncovers evidence of a brutal crime. With time running out, Hank follows the clues to a series of earth-shattering revelations.

The third novel in the Last Policeman trilogy, World of Trouble presents one final pre-apocalyptic mystery—and Hank Palace confronts questions way beyond whodunit: How far would you go to protect a loved one? And how would you choose to spend your last days on Earth?

320 pages, Paperback

First published July 15, 2014

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About the author

Ben H. Winters

53 books1,921 followers
Ben H. Winters is the author most recently of the novel The Quiet Boy (Mulholland/Little, Brown, 2021). He is also the author of the novel Golden State; the New York Times bestselling Underground Airlines; The Last Policeman and its two sequels; the horror novel Bedbugs; and several works for young readers. His first novel, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, was also a Times bestseller. Ben has won the Edgar Award for mystery writing, the Philip K. Dick award in science fiction, the Sidewise Award for alternate history, and France’s Grand Prix de L’Imaginaire.

Ben also writes for film and television. He is the creator and co-showrunner of Tracker, forthcoming on CBS. Previously he was a producer on the FX show Legion, and on the upcoming Apple TV+ drama Manhunt.

He has contributed short stories to many anthologies, as well as in magazines such as Lightspeed. He is the author of four “Audible Originals”– Stranger, Inside Jobs, Q&A, and Self Help — and several plays and musicals. His reviews appear frequently in the New York Times Book Review. Ben was born in Washington, D.C., grew up in Maryland, educated in St. Louis, and then grew up a bunch more, in various ways, in places like Chicago, New York, Cambridge, MA, and Indianapolis, IN. These days he lives in LA with his wife, three kids, and one large dog.

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3,581 (30%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,464 reviews
Profile Image for Annet.
570 reviews735 followers
December 6, 2018
Excellently written apocalyptic trilogy, last book really good. Dark, scary and emotional. Quick, intense read.
Well deserved four stars, hope this writer comes up with more of these great stories. Very recommended for fans of apocalyptic books, well worth the read. But also... for those who just like a good crime story. Poetic even, the last pages.....

What if you knew a deadly asteroid is going to hit earth, in so many days.... The word is in chaos and turmoil. Detective Hank Palace keeps fighting crime, but more importantly, is frantically trying to find his sister, in the last days of earth's existence....

Solid story!
Profile Image for carol..
1,574 reviews8,226 followers
August 26, 2022
From my blog at https://clsiewert.wordpress.com/2015/...

“Almost always, things are exactly as they appear. People are continually looking at the painful or boring parts of life with the half-hidden expectation that there is more going on beneath the surface, some deeper meaning that will eventually be unveiled; we’re waiting for the saving grace, the shocking reveal. But almost always things just are what they are, almost always there’s no glittering ore hidden under the dirt.“

I’ve been reading two books about asteroids hitting Earth with opposite reactions. In Lucifer's Hammer, I’m literally forcing myself to pick up the book and read, hoping I’ll get to the point where the magic will develop and I’ll remain engaged until the end. Then there is The Last Policeman trilogy which has kept me riveted–to the point where I’ve finished the entire trilogy before reaching page 200 in Hammer. Same rough plot line in both: an impending asteroid is headed toward Earth. The brilliance of The Last Policeman is that the scenario is based on an Everyman hero, a police officer advanced beyond his skill level, who has been choosing to solve mysteries in the last six months of life. Hammer explores the end of the world with a much larger cast, and as such, loses focus on the human tragedy, sacrificing quiet truth for plot points. Both acknowledge that despair will have some likely outcomes: “The most likely scenario, after all, is that this blood is the blood of a stranger, and these knives are totally unrelated to my current investigation. It’s just some terrible act of violence among uncounted terrible acts of violence occurring at an accelerating rate.”

World of Trouble, the final book in The Last Policeman trilogy was a powerful, moving read. Plotting stays true to the first two books while advancing both the story about the end of the world and the story of Henry Palace’s development. Or rather, de-volvement. Palace has left the safety and security of the house he was living at and has set off with the hoarder and trader Cortez for Ohio to search for his sister Nico.

This has been an extremely interesting series: engaging, somewhat unsettling, with a background of rising tension–much like The Southern Reach Trilogy. For me, The Last Policeman trilogy is about the meat of what it means to be human and what it means to be a member of society. “And the fact is that what Cortez said actually has the ring of truth. Not that kind of girl. But neither was Peter Zell that kind of guy. Nobody is the kind of person they used to be.” Winters is a genius with character–much like Tana French–and while I generally start out liking Peter, I end up liking him less and less, because I want him to be so much more than he is. I want him to be the hero. I want him to solve people’s problems, I want him to live with integrity in the face of society’s breakdown, and I want him to take care of the damn dog instead of letting it run around matted and limping. And though he continues to disappoint, I still have compassion for him because he is so very human. And so very familiar: “I was right, all along, in my pedantic obnoxious small-minded insistence that the truth was true.”

There’s humor here, so there are a few moments of levity in the midst of the missing persons search and the impending impact. A side remark about the DSM-IV for “astromania’ made me snicker, and one particular image struck me with its brilliance: “It’s like the man has re-created his natural habitat below the world, a scumbag terrarium.” But mostly I keep reading for the truths Winter leads me to and Palace’s evolving understanding of humanity:

“It’s not just a person’s present that dies when they die, when they are murdered or drowned or a giant rock falls on their head. It’s the past, too, all the memories that belonged only to them, the things they thought and never said. And all those possible futures, all the ways that life might have turned out. Past and future and present all burn up together like a bundle of sticks.“

Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
3,005 reviews10.6k followers
June 11, 2014
With six days until a six mile-wide asteroid crashes into the earth, can Henry Palace navigate America's dying carcass and track down his sister?

I won this in a Booklikes Giveaway. Apparently their giveaways are easier to win.

Here we are, the conclusion of the saga Ben H. Winters began in The Last Policeman. Like the conclusion of every other saga, it had a lot of expectations to meet. Did it?

Yes. Yes, it did. World of Trouble picks up months after Countdown City left off, with a world on the brink of an asteroid impact. Hank Palace leaves the sanctuary of the cop commune behind to find his sister Nico. His quest sees him crossing paths with survivalists, the Amish, and the remnants of the group Nico joined, dedicated to staving off Armageddon on a planet-wide scale.

If there is a theme to the Last Policeman saga, it's "To Thine Own Self Be True." Despite every obstacle thrown in his path over the last three books, Henry Palace keeps on keepin' on, doing what he was born to do despite the futility of it all. In The Last Policeman, he tries to prove a suicide was actually murder, despite everyone else not giving a shit. In Countdown City, he tracks down a man who may or may not want to be found. In this book, the final one in the trilogy, he wants to see his sister one last time.

World of Trouble has even more of a desperate feeling than the other two books in the series, not surprising since the world has less than a week left. Just as in the previous two books, Palace proves that he's like a dog with a prized bone, not willing to let go, once he's on the trail of something.

The ending wasn't all beer and bacon cheese burgers, either. I have to admit, Ben Winters could have taken the chicken shit way out, waved his wand, and given us all a different ending than what he presented. For my money, the ending he gave us was the only one that made sense in the context of the series.

World of Trouble was a satisfying end to a really good series. Four out of five stars.
Profile Image for Kemper.
1,390 reviews6,972 followers
May 5, 2014
(I won this ARC from Goodreads.)

I think that one of the bright spots about knowing that an asteroid is going to hit the Earth would be that no one could ever say again, “Cheer up. It’s not the end of the world!”

There are only a few days left until the hunk of space rock called Maia will collide with the Earth and almost certainly wipe out humanity. Hank Palace, a former police detective, is on one last case of a highly personal nature. He’s trying to track down his rebellious sister Nico who is with a group she claims can stop the asteroid by locating a scientist who is being held as part of some kind of vast conspiracy that is allowing Maia to impact Earth.

With his dog and a talented scrounger he’s not sure he can entirely trust, Hank has made his way through complete anarchy on his way from New England to a police station in small Ohio town where his last clue has led him to believe Nico and her wacky pals are waiting to rendezvous with the scientist. However, when they arrive instead of finding Nico, Hank makes a couple of other shocking discoveries. Can he solve the mystery of his missing sister before time runs out once and for all?

I don’t think I’ve ever done such a 180 on a character like I have on Hank Palace. In The Last Policeman when Maia was six months out and society was still pretty much intact, Hank was an earnest detective whose insistence on doing things by the book and dogged determination at mounting a murder investigation in the face of Armageddon made him seem like his own denial and urge to play cop wasted the time of other people, and wasting someone else’s time seems almost as bad as murder in this scenario. (Now that I’ve read all three books, I’m going to give The Last Policeman an extra star.)

However, in Countdown City when Hank was no longer a cop but still followed an investigation to the bitter end, he seemed more like a guy just trying to cling to some semblance of responsibility and decency even as everyone else was running off to fulfill their bucket list, committing suicide or just going crazy. Here, with only days left Hank still thinks that there’s a proper way to do things, and he continues to take extensive notes when talking to people and walks around a dead body like the CSI guys are going to show up at any moment to process the evidence.

It’s not exactly denial because Hank knows full well what’s coming and that he has very little time to find Nico, but he’s still helpless to resist his compulsion to know every little detail as if he can die satisfied if only he knew the whole story.

Ben Winters also showed a low key strain of creative world ending in how he’s established the way that that things have fallen apart gradually over the course of this trilogy. Hank started out as a patrolman getting to live his dream of being a detective when other cops have started walking off the job and there were still some structure and rules in place. Now that the end is really near, Hank is just another guy wandering through dangerous territory trying to satisfy one last personal quest before the big boom.

This ended up being an exceptionally good story with a great premise that Winters fully delivered on with his flawed but ultimately relatable main character.

One final note, and this is a total spoiler about the ending.
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,977 reviews1,991 followers
July 12, 2021
Rating: 4.5* of five, rounded up because they're my ratings and I get to do whatever the hell I want with 'em

12 JULY 2021 UPDATE THE TRILOGY'S BEEN OPTIONED FOR TV by Fox...Read all about it!!

How I missed posting my announcement of this review's appearance back in March I don't know. Anyway, it's live at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud, better known as "my blog."

And in further proof that this is the Golden Age of Comics-and-SF-Geekery, the trilogy's TV future is a step closer to assured at NBC...though they ultimately dropped the ball. Foolish move...Fox picked it up! (See above)
Profile Image for Carmen.
2,065 reviews1,905 followers
March 29, 2016
It remains hard to fathom, hard to believe, that this is what the world has become. That this, of all possible worlds and times in which I could have been born, could have been a policeman, that this is the world and time that I got.

Again we join Henry Palace, policeman, in one last mystery before the world ends.

In six days an asteroid will obliterate Earth. Henry Palace is searching for his sister. They are so different, and he knows they have different opinions on the future (such as, whether there is going to be one or not). So they parted ways. But now Henry realizes that was a big mistake. He loves his sister; he has to find her.

I'm still right and she's still wrong, but I cannot just let her be gone. Whatever she thinks, whatever she's doing, she is still my baby sister and I am the only person left with a stake in her welfare.

The need to find his baby sister (age 26) is so powerful that Henry (30) leaves his woman, his (relatively) safe place, his plans for waiting out the last month of life in order to find Nico and bring her "home."

I need to see her so badly that it is like a low rolling heat in my stomach, like the fire in the belly of a furnace, and if I don't find her - if I don't manage to see her, hug her, apologize for letting her go - then it will leap up and consume me.

Henry Palace is a policeman, goddamnit, a policeman through and through, and he's going to find his sister - even though he's living in a world with no phones, no Internet, no electricity, barely any food or clean water - a world filled with roving killers and maniacs.

Only Henry's determination and policing skills are keeping him sane, and those skills are the ones he's going to employ - with ruthless efficiency - in tracking his sister down and saving her. He has to tell her how much he loves her.

Accompanied by his friend Cortez (the thief) and his tiny dog Houdini, Henry heads out on his craziest, most intense, most labyrinthine mystery yet. Where is his sister? Can he find her before time runs out?

This trilogy is SO amazing, so dark, so amazing, really dark, and wonderful.

I highly recommend that you read this trilogy. It's stellar. It's out of this world. It's earthshatteringly good. :)

P.S. One last request to have this trilogy translated in Spanish. Please.

P.P.S. Henry is SUCH a good man, OMG, I can't stand it. <3 He's grown on me like a Chia pet.
Profile Image for Jenna ❤ ❀  ❤.
811 reviews1,268 followers
November 24, 2019
A thrilling end to a unique trilogy!

In this final installment of "The Last Policeman" series, Detective Harry Palace races against time to solve one final mystery before a devastating asteroid hits earth and wipes out most or even all of humanity. I think I enjoyed this final book the most, listening in to Harry's thoughts as the asteroid hurtles ever closer. As impending doom hastens Earthward.

This series is contemplative and "quiet", but also with enough action to keep you turning the pages. World of Trouble kept me, figuratively, on the edge of my seat (it's not very comfortable to sit on the edge of a chair so whence came that expression?). Will Harry have enough time to find his beloved sister? Will he be able to uncover all the answers he is seeking before everything goes dark? Or will he run out of time and the asteroid collides before he is able to solve his very last mystery?
Profile Image for Jilly.
1,838 reviews6,245 followers
April 17, 2017
We now live in a world of wolves... people roaming the countryside in search of safety or love or cheap thrills.

The asteroid that is going to wipe out Earth is now expected within just days. Henry only maintains his sanity by giving himself quests. In the first book, he was still a cop and was trying to solve a murder. In the second book, the police were done, but he took a private case to investigate. And, in this third book, he decides that he needs to find his sister before the end so they can die together.

I gotta say, there aren't a lot of happy feels going on in these books, but the writing is brilliant. It's thought-provoking and deeply philosophical, but ouch! You need to read it, but then have something happy and funny to read afterwards.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,103 followers
February 9, 2017
Very satisfying end to a progressively crazy series. I mean, seriously, can we expect anything else when the world is about to end? Cults aside, Henry is right there with the rest of them, still a policeman even when hunting for a sledgehammer, his sister, or that one last kiss.

(But not with his sister, mind you. He isn't *that* crazy.)

Of course, any SF/Mystery series that brings in the Amish is going to be slightly *odd*, right? Still, hunting for his lost sister is far from being the craziest thing anyone could do when faced with their end. A little companionship, a little bit of happiness, a bit of relaxation before Maia destroys the world.

Oh, who am I kidding? It all goes to shit.

And the best part is that it's still a mystery steeped in true apocalyptic SF, even Walking Dead-ish ambiance, getting into the deeper paranoid fantasies, the tenacious clasping to ideas and ideals, and (and here's the very best part,) a very satisfying end to the book and to the series.

Henry has remained true to himself to the very end.

There's something rather divine about that, even when it's batfuck crazy. My hat goes off to you, Hank! May you enjoy companionship and crazy conspiracies in .
Profile Image for Jamie.
1,196 reviews115 followers
August 26, 2022
The thrills, chills and introspection go to 11 on this one. This series has been an amazing, deeply poignant look at humanity in the face of ultimate tragedy, personal and universal. At the ways we deny or make sense of it. The futility and value of action, belief, obsession and love in the face of what can never really be understood.
Profile Image for Faith.
1,900 reviews534 followers
June 4, 2020
Henry Palace can't stop being a policemen, even though he is no longer on the force and even though Earth will collide with an asteroid in a few days destroying all life. He can't stop looking for answers, even though it doesn't matter anymore. What he is looking for in this last book of the trilogy is his sister. He didn't buy into her theory that a vast conspiracy is preventing a missing scientist from diverting the asteroid away from Earth, so they haven't parted on good terms and he needs to rectify that.

This was my favorite book of the trilogy (the middle book was my least favorite). It starts about a month after the end of the second book. There has been further deterioration of society. Henry, Cortez (a semi-reformed thief) and Henry's dog Houdini leave a place of relative safety to travel to Ohio to track down the conspiracy theorists who plan on freeing the scientist. My one quibble with this book was that Houdini's poor condition during the trip was kind of an unpleasant distraction for me.

This author is really good at writing action scenes and he exercised that talent a lot in this book. The trapped-in-a-barn sequence was a particular favorite. The last 20% or so of the book was incredibly suspenseful as questions kept getting answered, only to be discredited, until Henry finally solved what might be his last case. I really loved the ending of this book. The narration by Peter Berkrot of all three books was very good.

I received a free copy of the ebook from the publisher, however I wound up buying and listening to the audiobook version.
Profile Image for James Thane.
Author 9 books6,943 followers
October 11, 2014
This is the third and final volume in Ben H. Winters' series featuring Hank Palace, the Last Policeman. When the first volume, The Last Policeman, opened, Hank had just been promoted into his dream job of being a detective on the police force in Concord, New Hampshire. Sadly, though, the job is not going to last very long because in only six month's time, a giant asteroid is going to slam into the earth, ending Life As We Know It.

The Last Policeman and Countdown City detailed Hank's activities for the first five and a half months of the asteroid's approach. As civilization rapidly unravels all around him, Hank works as diligently as he can to remain a decent and responsible man, continuing his investigations at a time when many, including not a few readers, might wonder if he has lost his senses.

There are now two weeks left before impact. Food is scarce, potable water even more so. Things like the Internet, electricity, working phones, and gasoline are a dim, distant memory. Hank is reduced to traveling by bicycle and scrounging for food and water where he can find it.

His last investigation is his most personal. His sister, Nico, is his last remaining relative, but the two have become estranged for reasons described in the first two books, and Nico has disappeared. Hank is desperate to find her so that they might spend their last few days on earth together.

The search takes him to a small town in Ohio. In a world that has arrived at a post-apocalyptic state a few days ahead of schedule, hardly anything will surprise Hank or the reader, until Hank arrives in Ohio and discovers that things may have gotten even stranger than he could possibly have imagined.

I thought that the second book in the series was a bit weak, especially when compared with the first, but Winters returns to form here and provides a very fitting conclusion to what was, overall, a very unique and entertaining series. The story itself is gripping and the larger questions that have hung over the entire series grow even more important here. Readers contemplating the matter might well decide that they would have chosen to spend their last few weeks on Earth is ways far different than Hank Palace, but hanging out with the guy for the last six months has been a helluva ride.

Profile Image for Monica.
621 reviews631 followers
October 11, 2019
Wow, that was good!!

“The fact that we often judge the pleasure of an experience by its ending can cause us to make some curious choices.” ― Daniel Gilbert, Stumbling on Happiness

World of Trouble is the final book in an excellent trilogy pondering the end of the world. Should you decide to read the trilogy, do not indulge in spoilers, just read it. Ben H. Winters does an excellent job of painting humanity in small with his protagonist Hank Palace. Palace is the embodiment of the slow moving (by the standards of 21st century instant gratification) catastrophic event. He also captures all the eccentricities of being human with his supporting cast of characters. I think Winters reveals himself as an optimist who sees the good in people on the whole. An odd thing to say about a set of apocalyptic, dystopian novels. The world building here is superb as are the characterizations all of which set up for an extremely powerful ending. Read the trilogy. It's well worth your time.

5 Stars for the Trilogy

Read on kindle

Edited to add points for the plucky and fearless Bichon Frise!
Profile Image for Mogsy.
2,073 reviews2,637 followers
July 6, 2014
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.com/2014/07/06/b...

The Last Policeman series is simply awesome and underrated. And now the trilogy has come to a close.

Technically, these books would probably fit more comfortably in the Crime & Mystery/Police Procedural category. But there’s a twist. Imagine that for the past year, everyone has known that a giant killer asteroid is hurtling towards earth, set to impact in just a matter of days. On Boomsday, tsunamis will wipe out the coasts, atmospheric dust will black out the sun, and life as we know it would cease to exist.

Over time, society has degraded by degrees. As the probability of a direct hit gradually inched towards 100%, people abandoned jobs by droves to go bucket list or to reconnect with old friends and loved ones. Others sought religion. Some chose suicide. Everyone seemed to have their own way of dealing with the end of the world. Protagonist Hank Palace has even developed a color-coded system for categorizing towns based on their populations’ reactions – “Blue-Towns” look abandoned, but are actually filled with scared, stricken people. “Green-Towns” are where residents have chosen to continue with a life of normalcy, or at least put up a good attempt. And “Red-Towns” are places where all hell has broken loose.

Hank used to be among the small minority who has decided to go on business as usual. But as a reader who has had the pleasure of following his character over the last couple of books, it’s interesting to see how his motivations have changed since the first installment. In The Last Policeman, I could see how his doggedness to solve a suicide-maybe-murder could be attributed to a dedication to his job as a small town detective, asteroid be damned. In Countdown City, the missing persons case he is hired to solve involved a close friend, so you could possibly chalk it up to loyalty. In World of Trouble, he sets off on a journey to track down his sister, whom we last saw was part of an underground initiative with plans to destroy the incoming asteroid with high-tech weaponry.

However, at this point Hank has become such an unreliable narrator, it’s hard to tell whether he’s driven purely out of love for his sister, or that he has thrown himself into an obsession due to his innate need for order, logic and rationality in this world of chaos. After all, some people can fall apart without any outward indications, and we’re back to the argument that everyone handles stress in a different way. Hank’s seems to be his tunnel vision about finding answers. Yet, even as I’m wondering at his mental state, his determination is contagious. Hank’s desperation becomes the reader’s desperation, and the result is a suspenseful page-turner. And don’t forget, all this time the minutes are also tick-tick-ticking away on the Boomsday timer.

I’ve never read a more unique series of mystery novels – or apocalyptic novels, for that matter. What makes this scenario different is that the story first begins when the asteroid’s landfall is still so far off, and so society doesn’t implode so much as it starts to slowly crumble away. In each book, Hank’s investigation takes center stage, but it’s all set against this backdrop of a nation slowly losing hope, and I like the author’s speculation of what might happen.

So yeah, for three books we’ve read about this asteroid. The Last Policeman: half a year until impact. Countdown City: still three months out. But with World of Trouble, it’s finally on earth’s doorstep. Everything finally comes to a head in this book, and I’m not going to spoil what happens. No way. You’ll just have to pick up this series and find out for yourself. Believe me, it’s worth the read.
Profile Image for Toby.
836 reviews331 followers
September 8, 2014
Ben Winters closes out his trilogy of literary noirs set against an impending apocalypse in exactly the right way, staying true to the depressingly bleak yet somehow positively uplifting tone of the previous two books, thanks largely to his exceedingly well crafted protagonist Hank Palace.

With just a week left to live Palace gives up companionship, relative safety, a regular source of food and a pleasant place to see out the end of the world in favour of hunting down his wayward younger sister last seen running off on a supposed fool's errand to save the world from impending asteroidal doom. And what he experiences on this quest is powerfully human stuff indeed, comparable to James Crumley at his best. Yes, that makes John Christopher, Derek Raymond and Crumley I have compared this series to, Ben Winters has a lot to live up to with future writing endeavours considering this marks the apparent end of his debut trilogy.

He pulls no punches at any point, he's unrelenting in his approach towards staying true to the dark heart of man and Hank Palace is front and centre not quite rolling with the hits but ploughing onwards despite the physical and psychological pain constantly inflicted upon him.

Epilogue aside this is an incredible and worthy conclusion, and very much deserving of a wider audience.
Profile Image for Carol.
835 reviews499 followers
August 9, 2016
The Hook It’s the end of the trilogy and possibly the world. Who could resist knowing what happened?

The Line ”It’s sunrise, drizzling still, and with the muted rain-wet golds and scarlets of the trees, with the crickets calling to one another, the crows doing their plaintive cawing, I find myself imagining for a minute what a peaceful world this’ll be when the people are gone, when the paved expanses are reclaimed by wildflowers and the birds have the full use of the sky.”

The Sinker – Keeping it short and sweet - World of Trouble was just what I hoped for, a realistic conclusion to this entertaining trilogy. Henry “Hank” Palace will remain among my heroes in fiction. Wish I had known you Henry.
Profile Image for Ryan.
582 reviews21 followers
August 19, 2014
I'm not even sure where to start this review, simply because I'm not sure I'm capable of producing a coherent one. Or at least I'm not sure I'm capable of writing a reasonable, well thought out, unbiased review that will make me sound all smart and scholarly. Not that I'm saying anyone reads my reviews, and comes away with the idea that I'm some sort of savant book whisperer. I'm anything but, and trying to write a review for World of Trouble, just emphasizes that point.

Finishing this book, turning that last page, physically hurt. It caused me to wince a bit, and I had a hard time even being able to put the book away, once I was done with it. Leaving Hank behind, a character that I have grown to love and admire over three books, was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do when it comes to my reading life. It ranks up there with the sadness I felt with Vanyel Ashkevron sacrificing himself in Magic's Price by Mercedes Lackey, the last book in the Last Herald Mage trilogy. It made me feel that same way I did when I put down The Absolutist by John Boyne once I was done with it. I felt a physical sense of loss, of something missing. That something that had become a part of me, no longer was.

I don't think I realized how attached I was to Hank Palace until he was no longer around, that I would not be able to find out how his story ends. And I think that is the crux of my issue. I think I know what will happen to him, but the idea of me never knowing for sure, of not being with him at the end, it's a loss I wasn't expecting to feel. I never know when or how a fictional character will become something more to me, not quite real, but no longer someone I don't care about. It's one of the mysteries of writing, and I'm pretty sure it can never be planned by the author, or even expected by the reader. It's a connection that happens rarely, but it's one that I think most authors strive for, and most readers hope for every time they pick up a new book.

I think it's time to move on with the book itself, and I think that part of this review will probably make even less sense to you. I can't really delve into the story or plot itself, because I'm not sure I can really talk about it without giving too much away. Of the three books, this probably has the feel of a true mystery, despite the world coming to end. It's has all the tenseness I love in a well written mystery, and it has more than enough urgency given the circumstance Hank finds himself in, and the search he is on.

What is unlike a lot of mysteries though, is the emotion and heartache threading it's way through the entire thing. There is so much loss, on micro and macro levels. How does anyone deal with the pain is beyond me. Even Houdini, Hank's dog, who I love just about as much, is starting to feel it.

And sadly, this is where I need to end this review. I would love to be able to tell you what happens, how Hank finds Nico, who he meets along the way, the shocking losses that seem to happen at an almost alarming rate for a while, and how the book ends, but I won't. This is a story you need to read for yourself. Even if you don't get into mysteries or sci fi normally, I would even be willing to beg on hands and knees, if it would convince you to read this trilogy.
Profile Image for Ian.
764 reviews65 followers
June 20, 2021
I had thought that the second book in this series had dipped in quality a bit from the first, but I was still interested enough to see how the trilogy ended, and I’m glad about that because this final part turned out to be an excellent mystery/thriller. In this instalment our hero Henry Palace travels from New England to Ohio in search of his sister, with whom he is determined to be reunited. Most of the narrative takes place over the last couple of weeks before the asteroid is due to strike, and Palace undertakes a variation on the Odyssey, travelling through the remnants of society and encountering a range of individuals and groups with all sorts of different lifestyles and sub-cultures. The author did a marvellous job with these memorable creations. He also keeps the tension high throughout, and the last quarter of the book had me completely hooked. To cap it all I thought he wrote a perfect ending.

You couldn’t say that this book was “great literature” that will be remembered centuries from now, but within its genre, it’s as good as it gets, and that’s why I have rated it 5-stars. One of the most entertaining books I’ve read in years.
Profile Image for Judith E.
571 reviews195 followers
May 13, 2019
As the asteroid hurtles and is within days of colliding with Earth, Hank Palace continues using his detective skills to track down and reunite with his sister, Nico, so they can be together at the end.

Societal guidelines deteriorate to chaos and violence as Hank travels to Rotary, Ohio. He encounters multiple and complex characters who behave in an array of end-of-the-world behaviors. Winters’ portrayal of these players is perfection. Some are likable, some humorous, some philosophical and some downright evil.

Grace, joy, choices, society, family, love, vengeance - there are just too many themes in these books to name them all. I was apprehensive about how this would conclude, but I believe Mr. Winters nailed it.

I read this trilogy in less than a week. That should tell you something. Highly recommend reading this trilogy.
Profile Image for Brandon.
914 reviews235 followers
July 8, 2014
Hank Palace leaves behind the comfort of a secure police compound to seek out his missing sister, desperate to see her one last time before a six kilometer wide asteroid crashes into Earth. With humanity on the brink of extinction, can Hank find Nico or will he simply die alone in the ruins of America?

I received a free copy from Quirk Books in exchange for a review.

Winters’ World of Trouble is the highly anticipated finale to his Edgar Award winning Last Policeman trilogy. The books follow Detective Hank Palace as he struggles to find some sort of meaning to his remaining days in the face of impending doom. When the third and final book picks up, we’re only a few short days from impact and his efforts to locate Nico have led him to a police station in Rotary, Ohio. When an impenetrable entrance to an underground shelter is discovered, Hank leaves the station to seek out a sledgehammer - his own special key to unlock the door. On his journey, Hank meets several people who are preparing for the end of days in their own way while he learns more about his sister than he expected.

Unlike The Last Policeman and Countdown City, Hank spends the bulk of the story in one location, offering a distinctly different experience. He’s not working for the remnants of a police department, he’s not offering assistance to an old friend or client, he’s simply in business for himself; driven by a need to connect with the only family he has left. With the story moving closer and closer to the end, Hank becomes more relatable, more human and less like the crime-solving robot that we were presented with in the beginning of the story; you really feel for the guy.

In the end, Winters lived up to my high expectations and delivered a satisfying ending to his unique story. I’m looking forward to what he chooses to do next - I can’t wait.

Also posted @ Every Read Thing.
Profile Image for Left Coast Justin.
418 reviews89 followers
August 6, 2023
I did not read this book for about a year after finishing the second book in this most outstanding trilogy. Partly this was because I truly did not want the experience of reading these to end; they were really that enjoyable. But also, I must admit that felt some trepidation that, after the wonderful setup of the first two books, Winters would not be able to wrap it all up in the final book. After all, he had set himself up for quite a task, what with writing about the end of the world and all.

Obviously, I wouldn't dream of writing how the trilogy actually ended. I can only say that it wasn't the ending I was expecting, but after closing the book, taking a few deep breaths and thinking about it, I can't think of any better, more convincing and more emotionally satisfying ending than the one he chose. Hank Palace, the protagonist of this series, is a deeply flawed human being, and we get to know him very well over the course of three books -- what he admires, what makes him happy, where he feels his deepest loss. The ending stays true to his nature right until the final sentence. (There is an epilogue tacked on that doesn't serve any purpose.)

Ben H. Winters, take a bow. This isn't great science fiction or great detective fiction, but great fiction, period. You have created something brilliant, beautiful and enduring.
Profile Image for Jeanette.
3,392 reviews583 followers
August 3, 2014
This was probably the most awaited book for me circa 2014. My anticipation was never disappointed. And look at me, giving a 5 star rating in this genre, at that. As I am no book snob, it isn't a first- but it sure is a rarity.

Ben H. Winters' trilogy just gets better and better. The tension starts out slower at the beginning of the third and final "World of Trouble" and at that point my enjoyment was 4 star; yet for the second whole half it went to a 6. Twists and unforeseen turns and still the kind of conclusion I was so hoping he could accomplish this well. Without any cope outs.

The Asteroid's impact is within weeks or days now for living Earth's end, and Policeman Palace is STILL doggedly on the job to locate, solve and surmise the truth of murderous actions. His sister and his mindset centered as singular OCD obsessing goal, cemented steadfast in his moral viewpoint. He is Everyman "Serve and Protect".

This entire last book is littered with insight/knowledge of human psychological & cognitive reality. Rationalization and context completely changing most of the characters' human moral values and empathetic facades. Some revert to their individual original core, some to drastic change of their true self.

But far more than that, it was a tremendously entertaining tale. All three of these, absolutely in combination- from characterizations to locations to "eyes" of observation- all aspects, and the length to tell them too, PERFECT.

Ben H. Winters, I am a fan. What you know about human nature, plus the writing skill and story-telling imagination? What a combo.

This is NOT literature with the big L. What it is in fun but with a "deep think" elemental aspect? Mind candy and great fodder for discussion. Both. IMHO, it is the Cortez's, the "stuff" and "mechanical" people that would/will ultimately survive. Not ideologue charismatic marketing masters, nor intellectual erudite logic/science stars, nor perhaps, single-minded good guys.

Try these, even if this isn't your preferred class of reading. Sometimes simple is best.

Profile Image for Althea Ann.
2,233 reviews1,046 followers
December 22, 2014
A strong ending to the trilogy.

I almost felt that the middle book could've been skipped, but the story is back on track in the third.

Former detective Hank Palace's sister was last seen in a helicopter, zooming off with a cultlike group with seemingly far-fetched plans to rescue an imprisoned physicist and save the world in a daring last-minute bid to knock the asteroid that's headed for Earth out of its apocalyptic trajectory.

Hank is feeling guilty that his last interaction with his sister involved his refusing to believe her and shooting down her hopes. (And maybe he has a little bit of hope that her optimistic beliefs aren't quite as cockamamie as they sounded?) With two weeks to go till impact, Hank decides to take on a last case - a personal case - and sets out to track down his sister.

As one might expect, given the scenario, there's a desperation and sadness to this book. But it's also a tense and grippingly-told story. Bringing the personal element to it to the fore is a winning strategy, as we see Hank struggling to use his OCD-like obsession with detective work to try to bring meaning and a sense of conclusion to his life and to the increasingly senseless violence and entropy that surrounds him.

Highly recommended for all fans of apocalyptic fiction.

Many thanks to Quirk Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read. As always, my opinions are solely my own.
Profile Image for Siğnem.
86 reviews1 follower
April 3, 2023
Bir Dünya Dert ile Philip K. Dick ödüllü The Last Policeman serisini sonlandırmış oldum. Bilim kurgu ile polisiyenin enteresan bir karışımı olan bu üç kitaplık seriyi ben sevdim ama melankolik ve ağır giden havasıyla herkese hitap etmeyeceğini de belirtmem lazım.

İlk kitap, 6 ay sonra dünyaya çarpacak bir asteroitin neden olacağı mutlak yok oluş bilgisinin gölgesinde başlıyor. İkinci kitapta sona 77 gün, son kitapta ise sadece iki hafta kala, takıntılı Dedektif Hank Palace araştırmaya, sormaya devam ediyor.

Her şeyin yok olacağının, yapılan her şeyin anlamsızlığının farkında olarak Dedektif Palace ile sürükleniyoruz seri boyunca. Bu süreçte toplumun bu durumu karşı verdiği farklı tepkilere, bu tepkilerin zaman geçtikçe nasıl dönüşümlere uğradığına tanık oluyoruz. Her kitapla polisiye tarzı azaldıkça, apokaliptik dozu güçlü bir şekilde artıyor. Bütün dünyanın geri dönüşü olmayan değişimine karşı idealist dedektifin aynı kalma çabası bu seriye farklılık katan bir detaydı benim için.

Yazarın kafada hiç bir soru işareti bırakmayan sonunu beğendim. Farklı türlerin karşımı bu depresif felaket serisini değişik bir tat arayanlara tavsiye ederim.
Profile Image for Emma.
2,510 reviews855 followers
November 23, 2019
This trilogy was amazing and this book was much anticipated by me. I loved the premise for this series- the world is going to end. It’s proven beyond all doubt. How do people behave? Badly. But not Henry Palace. I can’t tell you how much I love this character. He is upstanding and committed to his police officer job even when the world is falling apart. This book is so sad, as he struggles to find out where his sister disappeared to. This trilogy is original and well written. Anyone who likes post apocalyptic fiction should give this pre-apocalyptic tale a try too. Recommended.
Profile Image for ALLEN.
553 reviews121 followers
August 17, 2020
"Green" towns are low-key, high-functioning and homely, where neighbors look after neighbors and there are community sing-alongs. But "red" towns are anarchic, exploitative and cruel. And "black" towns have effectively ceased to exist. The end of human habitation on earth is likely only a few days away, and already there's no civil government, electricity or even running water.

Welcome to the tragic world of Hank Palace, a former police detective who has left his native New Hampshire with his "poor sick dog" Houdini, to head west in search of his disappeared little sister Nico. WORLD OF TROUBLE, in my opinion, is not up to the standard of the first book in the trilogy, THE LAST POLICEMAN, but a little better than the middle entry, COUNTDOWN CITY. Readers who have stuck with the series this far can expect a lack of wonderment, and perhaps too much gratuitous violence, but it's worth toughing out -- with reservations.

from the book:
I take big careful steps along the gray floor, my back pressed against the rough concrete, my light bobbling in front of me like I'm an anglerfish. My gun is in my right hand. Eyes seeking, trying to adjust. Walking through a shadowland, through a photographer's negative, shining the light. A few bulbs dangle bare and functionless from the ceiling, among a tangle of sagging, rusted pipes. A bare stone floor, uneven, cracked in long lines across the foundation. Spiderwebs and spiders. (p. 238)
Profile Image for Mike Finn.
1,226 reviews36 followers
September 25, 2021

The 'Last Policeman' trilogy is a wonderful achievement. It considers what happens when all of us find out that we have no future. That, in a few months time, an asteroid is going to strike and the world is going to end. That all we have is now. That there is no later. What makes it unique is that the story is told through the eyes of Hank Palace, a neuroatypical man for whom the end of the world has brought the fulfilment of an ambition. He finally gets to be a homicide detective.

The first book, 'The Last Policeman' was a slow burner that I underestimated when I first read it but which was still glowing in my imagination months later. It wasn't the plot of Palace trying to solve a murder in a world that's falling apart that stuck with me. It was the overwhelming feelings of despair and desperation that the book was soaked in that clung to me like gasoline in my clothes.

Palace is the last policeman because it never occurs to him to stop. He has no social life. He knows he doesn't fit in, that he's different. All he has is police procedure and a stubborn determination to do his job.

The most disturbing thing for me was that I started to wonder how like Hank Palace I was. I was in my mid-fifties when I read the first book. I knew I was going to die. That everyone I knew is going to die. That nothing I did would last. That my personal world would end in a couple of decades or less and yet I plodded on doing my job. That's the power of Ben Winters' writing. To let you see the world through a first-person account from this passionate, neuroatypical man, knowing that you'll see the world Palace describes differently than Palace does but challenging you to consider how clear your own vision is.

I left it nearly a year before I read the second book in the series 'Countdown City' set seventy days before the asteroid strike. Here's what I wrote at the time.

“Countdown City” is not a very exciting book. It’s too realistic for that. Excitement is replaced by controlled despair, desperate hedonism, creative denial and a slow but inexorable ending of everything for everyone.

What kept me turning the pages was Hank Palace. He is a strange man: honest, loyal, law-abiding and almost totally lost in the world he lives in. There were times I wanted to scream at him and slap him and make him wake up and face reality, except I think I prefer his reality to mine. In his place, I believe I would just stop. Hank creates purpose and meaning for himself and does his best to help others. If this makes him Quixotic then I guess that shows that Don Quixote was a nicer man than I am.

One of the things that started to emerge in 'Countdown City' was that Hank Palace, the man everyone thinks is odd, the man who sometimes struggles to understand other people's behaviour, has a firmer grasp on reality than the people around him. His sister, energetic, defiant, bright, and the only person he really feels connected to, is determined to save the world through the work of some secret cabal. Hank is completely incapable of seeing her efforts as anything other than self-delusion. As the end of the world approaches, it seems that for most of us, self-delusion is what keeps us going. Again, this got me thinking about how far that's true in my day-to-day life.

I bought the final book 'World Of Trouble' when I finished the second one back in 2015 and I found I was unable to read it. I understood that Ben Winters' version of the end of the world wouldn't be an adventure. It would be an entirely different kind of journey and there was too much going on in my own life for me to add in despair and I couldn't imagine an ending that wasn't a hope killer.

So here I am, seven years after reading the first book, finally having finished the trilogy. I'm glad I read it and I'm glad I waited,

Like the rest of the trilogy, it was a strange book that never quite went where I expected it to yet it always felt grounded and real. With only a few weeks to go, Hank Palace leaves behind the community he was offered shelter in at the end of 'Countdown City' and goes to find his sister, who he last saw being flown away on a helicopter on her mysterious and, Hank believes, bogus effort to save the world.

In this book, Hank finally starts to crack under the pressure of the impending end of everything. He becomes obsessed with finding his sister and uncovering the truth behind the organisation that whisked her away from him. He spends large parts of the novel deeply distressed and frustrated at his inability to work the problem, find his sister and solve one last case. Hank knows that he's no longer behaving rationally. That the chances of him finding his sister are slim. That his relentless, manic pursuit of clues may simple be a distraction from the imminence of the death of the world. But that doesn't mean he can stop. it simply makes him more desperate and increases his absolute need to know.

His search takes him to a deserted police station in a small town in Ohio. What he finds there, signs of his sister's presence, strange blood spatter and, eventually, a body does provide him with one last case to solve in the week before the end of the world.

One of the challenges of writing a trilogy is coming up with an ending that has enough punch. Something that justifies the three-book journey to that destination. Ben Winters delivered this perfectly. The book continued to be driven by Hank's obsessive quest to know. People's behaviour continued to get stranger and Hank is no closer to understanding them.

As he works on his puzzle Hank reflects on the people he met along the way, like the young couple he had to rescue because they'd set the zoo animals free and one of them had been chased up a tree by a tiger. Or the people, all wearing the same colour t-shirts who had organised themselves into looting gangs to empty malls of things that they didn't have enough days left to use.

My favourite moment was when he came across an isolated family group who had been shielded from the knowledge of the asteroid by their leader. As he has lunch with them, Hank realises that the strange, now unfamiliar thing he is seeing in their behaviour is the simple happiness that comes from knowing that you have a future. He wonders why he's only able to see that happiness because it has been taken from him.

The closer I got to the end, the more the tension in the book ramped up. The puzzle Hank is trying to solve is difficult, brutal and personal. The answers that he finds pull all of the storylines of the trilogy together but without the sense of triumph that solving a mystery is supposed to bring. Hank now knows what happened and with that knowledge, he can finally let go of his obsession and face the one day he has left.

I won't talk about the puzzle that Hank solves, except to say that it was very cleverly done and highly emotionally charged.

I won't share the ending either, although it burns bright in my memory. It was perfect. Deeply affecting and yet wonderful in its own way. I'll remember it for a long time.

I'm going to bask in the glow of the trilogy for a while and then I'm going to try out Ben Winters' next book 'Underground Airlines'.

1,644 reviews92 followers
February 17, 2020
This is the final book in the Last Policeman trilogy. I don’t know why I enjoy Winters so much. Except for the novel setting, this is a pretty typical detective story. Against all odds and relying only on his wits, the young policeman tracks down the bad guy and wins. But despite any implausibility, I am totally sucked in to his novels. Guilty pleasure?
Profile Image for MadProfessah.
370 reviews165 followers
December 26, 2015
FIVE STARS! Really the entire THE LAST POLICEMAN trilogy should be read as one book, which is sort of how I did it, inhaling THE LAST POLICEMAN, COUNTDOWN CITY and WORLD OF TROUBLE in a little over 4 days.

The third book is the best of the bunch, and first I thought that it was, by necessity, going to be more towards the science fiction end of the scifi-mystery axis that the books advertise themselves as. The thing is, the INCREDIBLE emotional wallop WORLD OF TROUBLE punches wouldn't be nearly as potent if it were not the third book in a trilogy and we the reader hadn't already spent hours of our lives living with and feeling for Detective Hank Palace (retired) and his crazy, beautiful frustrating sister, Nico as the world and life as we know it comes to a horrifying end due to a cataclysmic collision with an asteroid.

I don't want to give any spoilers except to say that I was really impressed with how the author brought items (and people) from the earlier books into the later books, so that they became familiar and helped and comforted us along this emotionally harrowing (and ultimately depressing) journey. After all, we know that everything we are reading is just prelude to the destruction of our world. There really is no hope. This is a key difference from other similar post-apocalyptic fictions (like THE WALKING DEAD or Cormac McArthy's THE ROAD) or Neal stephenson's SEVENEVES. Here we are pretty sure that humanity's time on Earth is coming to an end. On October 3.

There are many mysteries in this book, especially towards the end when the deepening mystery of "where the #!^@&* is Nico?" is coupled with other mysteries like "what is the plan of Nico's group to save the world"?

I found the book almost impossible to put down and probably read it too fast. I'm incredibly happy that I had the good sense to not just obtain the first book in the trilogy but picked up the last two books (which I only did just in case I got into the trilogy and wanted to read the whole thing). I would be REALLY annoyed if I had to wait to find out what happens to Nico and Hank (and Houdini the dog!)

I hope they make this trilogy into a movie (or movies). I don't think it would work as well on TV. Ben Winters is now on my list of must-read authors.I anxiously await his next book, a new alternative history mystery called Underground Airlines.

The central character in the book is Hank Palace (although I would argue the pre-apocalyptic sense of doom caused by the impending arrival of the asteroid is practically a main character as well.) Hank's obsession with solving the mysteries he is tasked with is really insane, and eventually it leads him into some crazy (and perilous) situations. But in the end we realize this is his way of coping with how much he has lost (civilization dying and the impending asteroid impact).

The writing is of an extremely high quality and there were moments where I literally felt myself emotionally pummeled by the story. This is one of the most intense reading experiences I have had this year.


(Especially for fans of mystery thrillers who are not opposed to soft science fiction / alternative futures ).
Profile Image for Rachel the Book Harlot.
175 reviews45 followers
September 1, 2016
(Note: I won this book in a Booklikes giveaway)

An excellent conclusion to a unique trilogy.

"Acceptance of loss is a destination, not a journey." 
- Henry Palace

If I was worried as to how Ben Winters would end his Last Policeman trilogy, I should not have been. Winters managed it beautifully.

In World of Trouble, Henry embarks on a quest to locate his sister, Nico. Their last encounter ended on a sour note, and she disappeared before Henry had a chance to make things right. Henry cannot bear the thought of facing the end without his beloved sister.

As was the case with previous books, we get to see the deterioration of society, as well as how individuals cope with their imminent doom. Even Henry's single minded dogged determination reaches a sort of crescendo. And as always, in what I feel makes this series truly shine, Henry faces generally good people who make morally ambiguous decisions. And as has also often happened throughout this trilogy, I found myself asking what I would do in that specific situation. Winters really has a gift for presenting the shades of gray.

The first half of the book feels more like a series of vignettes. The second half of the book is what elevated it to a 5 star read for me. I liked the first half, but the second half really blew me away.

This final installment also eliminated some of the criticisms I had of Book 2, Countdown City, and caused me to upgrade my rating of it. So if you were iffy after finishing Book 2, I would recommend giving World of Trouble a chance.

As to my reaction to the ending?

I think fans of this series will not be disappointed. World of Trouble is a wonderful end to a great trilogy.

Final Rating: 5 stars
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