Sarah Rosenberger's Reviews > The Last Policeman

The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters
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's review
Jun 01, 2012

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bookshelves: mystery

Everyone in the world knows that in six months, a giant asteroid is going collide with the Earth, killing untold millions and forever changing life for the few who manage to survive. Faced with "all of this unbearable immanence," many people are walking off the job, turning to drugs or religion, or committing suicide.

When he first sees the body of Peter Zell in a McDonald's bathroom, Detective Hank Palace thinks it's just another in the string of suicides that have earned Concord, New Hampshire the nickname "Hangertown." But something doesn't seem right, and Palace becomes convinced that Zell was actually murdered. Although the other police officers mock him ("What's the point in solving murders if we're all going to die soon anyway?"), he begins to investigate, following twisting leads through a city braced for disaster.

This book has a really great hook, and the exploration of different ways people react to knowing the exact date of the end of the world is well-done. The mystery is suspenseful, and while the end of the book isn't exactly satisfying (It's the first in a trilogy, so the asteroid doesn't crash yet...), it's at least a natural stopping point. Some of the characters felt like hollow 'whodunit?' cariacatures, but Winters tries to get inside the head of others.

This book would be a good choice for those who want a unique mystery or apocalyptic fiction. Although it's written for adults, teens would probably like it too.
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