The Last Policeman by Ben H Winters

last policeman An asteroid will collide with earth in six months and the consequences will lead to the eventual destruction of all life. There is no doubt about the impact, just the location of the hit. With certain death around the corner suicides start to increase and finding a dead man in a fast food restaurant’s toilet is not unusual. However, policeman Hank Palace senses something strange and decides to investigate this potential murder.

What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die? This is the tagline of the book, the first of a trilogy, and a very clever idea.

The execution of the idea is a bit curious because of the combination of alternate pre-apocalyptic society setting, the mystery of the death which Palace is investigating and a possible conspiracy hinted at in the writing. There is also the sense that this is the first of three books so things are left a little unfinished and I couldn’t quite tell which thing were completed.

Palace is likeable and with his focus on solving the murder seems pleasantly normal compared to the rest of society which is understandably falling apart. He is our steady narrator mostly.

It’s a great and original story and presented well. I didn’t particularly like the female characters and I don’t  think Winters is very good at writing them. I originally discovered him from his book Bedbugs and I downloaded a sample. The protagonist is a woman who finds a perfect apartment and she is the only one in her family who can see the bedbugs everywhere. Great idea, very Philip K Dick but the woman just didn’t read very believably to me and I couldn’t finish it. Women seem to be written as ‘other’ and men as normal.

I still want to find out what happens next in the Last Policeman trilogy.

Countdown City’ is the sequel to The Last Policeman, and it’s due in July in the UK.

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