“The end is nigh,” is no longer an utterance owned only by true believers, it’s fact. In less than a year, a massive asteroid will decimate life as we know it. This news has thrown the entire world into a panic, including the relatively dull town of Concord, New Hampshire, where the preferred exit strategy is suicide by hanging.
Ostensibly this is a police procedural. We follow newbie detective Hank Palace’s investigation, but the pre-apocalyptic setting Winters has crafted is unlike any other.
Why is this on our bookshelf?
There are a lot of books examining life after some giant calamity. These days, it seems to be an environmental apocalypse of our own making. These darker stories are often the perfect setting to explore human minds and motivations. But this isn’t a post apocalyptic story, the astroid that will doom us all is still a few months away. This is about the shifts in society—from one Detective’s perspective—when everyone knows they have six months to live. This is a light science fiction novel that will appeal to anyone who loves police procedural or who is getting tired of post-environmental-apocalypse novels.
The sequel to The Last Policeman is nominated for a Philip K. Dick award. We’ll be reviewing Countdown City soon.
Rating (5 stars)
I keep trying to compare The Last Policeman to some other five-star reviews that I’ve written, it feels like it falls just a smidge short, but I’m not sure why. I think it’s because, in the book, Earth hasn’t blown up yet and, as weird as it is, that makes me a bit sad.
The good news, is that I get to read Countdown City which is coming up next.
This book isn’t just about waiting for the world to explode though. In fact, as the title might suggest, our protagonist is still very much on the job. He’s fully aware of the end of the world, but has resolved to doing his job– investigating a murder that everyone else sees as a routine suicide.
I’ll admit some bias in this review. I spent a few years in law enforcement and have a degree in Criminology. I like police procedurals. So to read a well written science fiction police procedural was perfect. At some point near the middle of the book, I found myself audibly sympathizing with Palace’s situation and life as it goes from bad to worse. Furthermore, I couldn’t put the book down (always a good sign).
Read this book:
if you enjoy police procedurals or are tired of post-environmental-apocalypse novels.
Don't Read this book:
If you’re a NASA asteroid expert.
Once you're done, do this:
Eat some eggs and toast, then head to work.