Monday, July 09, 2012

Book Review: The Last policeman - Ben Winters

The Last Policeman: A Novel
Hank Palace, a homicide detective in Concord, New Hampshire, asks this question every day.

Most people have stopped doing whatever it is they did before the asteroid 2011L47J hovered into view. Stopped selling real estate; stopped working at hospitals; stopped slinging hash or driving cabs or trading high-yield securities. A lot of folks spend their days on bended knee, praying to Jesus or Allah or whoever they think might save them. Others have gone the other way, roaming the streets, enjoying what pleasures they can before the grand finale. Government services are beginning to slip into disarray, crops are left to rot.

When it first appeared, 2011L47J was just a speck, somewhere beyond Jupiter's orbit. By mid-October it revealed itself to be seven kilometers in diameter, and on a crash course with the Earth. Now it's March, and sometime in September, 2011L47J will slam into our planet and kill half the population immediately, and most of the rest in the miserable decades that follow.

All of humanity now, every person in the world--we're like a bunch of little kids, in deep, deep trouble, just waiting till our dad gets home. So what do I do while I wait? I work.

Today, Hank Palace is working the case of Peter Zell, an insurance man who has comitted suicide. To his fellow police officers, it's just one more death-by-hanging in a city that sees a dozen of suicides every week. But Palace senses something wrong. There's something odd about the crime scene. Something off. Palace becomes convinced that it's murder. And he's the only one who cares.

What's the difference, Palace? We're all gonna die soon, anyway.

As Palace digs deeper, we are drawn into his world. We meet his sister Nico and her screwup boyfriend, Derek, who are trying to beam S.O.S messages into outer space; we meet Erik Littlejohn, a "spiritual advisor" helping his clients through these difficult times. Palace's investigation plays out under the long shadow of 2011L47J, forcing everyone in the book -- and those reading it-- to confront hard questions way beyond "whodunnit." What basis does civilization rest upon? What is life worth? What would any of us do, what would we really do, if our days were numbered?

Book is released July 10th, 2012
3/5 stars (liked it)
I like the idea of a book about the end of the world (basically) where everyone knows the end is coming months in advance.  Everyone will react differently and as the asteroid nears Earth, people will change their reaction to it.  This book focuses on Hank Palace, a detective who is still determined to find justice.  He investigates the hanging of Peter Zell, an apparent suicide but Hank believes he was murdered.  Through his investigation, which he pretty much has to do on his own since the other cops just believe it was a suicide, he meets several people that had contact with Peter.  The person that I had guessed was the killer was not in fact even part of it.  The killer game me a surprise and I like how the author built up the suspense in the reveal of the killer.  I also like how Hank changed in the course of the book.  I would love to read a follow up book especially when it gets closer to when the Asteroid collides with Earth.

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