Review: The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters

The Last PolicemanSource: Quirk Books – I received this book in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Quirk Books
Series: The Last Policman #1
Edition: Paperback, 316 Pages
Genre: Sci-fi Mystery
Purchase: Amazon/ Barnes & Noble / Book Depository*
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases
Rating: 4/5

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?

The Last Policeman is set in a pre-apocalyptic world, where an asteroid is on a collision course with Earth and everything is slowly falling a part. It tackles the question of ‘what would you do if you knew the world was going to end?’.

The world in Last Policeman is threatened by an enormous asteroid called 2011GV1, or Maia, and civilization is in the process of crumbling under the news that it’s going to hit Earth. Our story follows a detective, Hank Palace, and his desire to do his job despite the inevitability of the worlds end. The world Winters has painted is very realistic and bleak. Suicides are common, no one wants to work anymore and laws are only there to be broken. In other words everything is grinding to a halt, making life more difficult and Hank’s determination to continue doing what he swore to do as a cop. One of the best things about this is the different ways people handle the news of the asteroid. Some people opt out, others use it as excuse to finally live, and some take the opportunity to do what they want no matter the cost. It’s the human condition on display.

Our main character, Hank, is one I truly admire. I know in the face of something so devastating and huge I would not want to continue working, I would be one of those people who have a sudden desire to go skydiving or road trip across the US. Hank puts up with so many people who have given up on upholding the law, and even with all of the nay-saying and general complacence he still puts his mind to work and tries to solve a murder that appears to be a suicide. I wouldn’t even say that Hank is all that fantastic of a detective, in fact he’s quite new to the job…but it makes a world of difference when you’re close to the only one doing your job. I loved getting to know about Hank and what makes him tick. Even though I can’t quite understand how someone could be so comfortable with the idea of impending death that they carry on, I still really liked his drive to continue. He’s the sort of person you hope to see in dire situations.

I loved that the novel was not solely just about the murder mystery, but instead about the setting around Hank. How people are living, reacting, and coping. The whole pre-apocalyptic setting is not an in your face experience, it’s more of a muffled exprience. The world is sad and scared, and the city reflects that.  The mystery in itself was quite interesting and not one you can easily guess, so I really appreciated that since I tend to be one of those people who guess early on and end up bored.

I’m really looking forward to reading book two and three in order to see how things will play out the closer the asteroid gets. I do know that Hank is going to have his hands full and given the way this one ended things are only going to get tougher. If you enjoy out-of-the-box mysteries that are not only fun to read, but also make you think about life in general then definitely give this one a shot!

4 stars

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6 Responses to Review: The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters

  1. Hank sounds brave and like a great character to read about and its good that book focuses not only on the mystery but also the surrounding events and other characters

  2. This book sounds really interesting and Hank sounds like a great character! I like how this one explores the asteroid post-apocalyptic scenario. Hank, being new to his job, sounds like he’d be quite intriguing to follow over the course of the book. Great review Michelle!

  3. The series is really called the Powerpuff Girls? I must admit I am so curious about this world and Hank. Can you imagine knowing about an asteroid of that size heading towards Earth?

  4. lab1990 says:

    I think this sounds great. I saw it at my library not too long ago and was so curious. Thanks for the review!

    Lauren from

  5. Greg says:

    Does sound interesting, to explore how society would fall apart w/an impending disaster like that. Definetly original. Sounds like Hank deals with the crisis by focusing on his job- i guess some people might do that while everyone else freaks out! 🙂 Nice too that the mystery is not telegraphed, that’s always nice. Sounds like a good series!

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