The world — and life as we know it — has only a few months left before a gigantic asteroid rather impolitely says hello. Concord, New Hampshire is — like the the rest of the world — descending into chaos as critical supplies evaporate, personnel disappear, and essential services shut down.

“The main branch of the Concord Public Library is open twenty-four hours a day at this point, kept clean and lit by a skeleton crew of librarians and a cadre of volunteers.”

page 54

As he was in The Last Policemanformer-detective Hank Palace is still working. In what feels a little reminiscent of a boyhood detective story, Palace takes on a missing-persons case for a friend in a world filled with missing persons. As Palace finds clues and assembles the story of Brett Cavatone, we get a brilliant cross-section of humanity in its final moments.

Why is this on our bookshelf?

We picked this book up — Book 2 of 3 in The Last Policeman series — primarily because it was nominated for the 2013 Philip K Dick award.

That said, it earns a place on our bookshelf as a compliment to our usual science-fiction fare of post-apocalyptic or dystopian scenery.

Rating (4 stars)

When The Last Policeman ends, we thought the world was descending into chaos, but it turns out that by and large things were still functioning. For starters, you could still get coffee and the Medical Examiner still works in the morgue.

Countdown City is set a few months closer to the end of days” and the world is falling apart (there is no coffee to be found). The setting is an excellent sequel and I highly anticipate the release of the third book.

But unlike The Last Policeman, there were less twists and exciting, revelatory discoveries. Palace uncovers clues diligently, gets his ass kicked predictably, and professionally focuses squarely on the case at hand despite impending doom.

Despite that, this is still a great read for those interested in light, speculative science fiction set in a pre-apocalyptic America. It’s also a mandatory read if you intend on picking up the third book in this series, World of Trouble, due out July 15 from Quirk Books.