Tuesday, March 22, 2016

THE LAST POLICEMAN by Ben Winters...Apocalypses are no excuse for not doing your job



THE LAST POLICEMAN
BEN H. WINTERS

Quirk Books
$14.95 trade paper, available now

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 off the job—but not Hank Palace. He’s investigating a death by hanging in a city that sees a dozen suicides every week—except this one feels suspicious, and Palace is the only cop who cares.

The first in a trilogy, The Last Policeman offers a mystery set on the brink of an apocalypse. As Palace’s investigation plays out under the shadow of 2011GV1, we’re confronted by hard questions way beyond “whodunit.” 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?

My Review: I just loooooooooove it when the author, while playing fair with me, still surprises me with the solution to the crime(s). Mr. Winters has done this, and to a very satisfying T.

As apocalyptic tales go, this is one of the few that doesn't make me wrinkle my nose and schplurgle my lips in distaste. I completely buy that, facing extinction, the privileged population of the US would go all Bucket List and do all the stuff they didn't or couldn't before The End was writ large across the skies. It seems solipsistic, selfish, and inconsiderate...pure-D Murrikin behavior. But even with The End coming, gun-hoarders are seen as nutballs, just like they are now. I can believe this.

I also completely understand Henry Palace, our detective, staying on the job. He loves the job. He needs a challenge so he doesn't go nuts. He believes in a large, abstract greater good called "Justice" and he doesn't think that a little detail like the impending end of the world diminishes the need for and the right to Justice.

Gag...I'm making him sound like some kind of Eagle Scout...if it helps dispel some of that distasteful miasma, he also sleeps with a key witness. What ensues from that has to be read to be absorbed, especially in light of the killer's identity.

Off to pick up book two for some bedtime reading!

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