The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters

The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters (2012)
316 pages
Series: Last Policeman #1
Goodreads Summary: 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?

This is the first book I read for the R.I.P. VIII challenge and will probably be the only one I get to before the end of the month as I started two others but didn’t finish them. But, if this is the only one I read, it’s fine because this book was so good!  I really enjoyed it and can’t wait to get my hands on the next book in the series, Countdown City.

I liked this book because it was so unique and unlike anything I’d read before. Many apocalyptic books take place after the apocalypse but this was a pre-apocalyptic one. It’s interesting to see how things happen and how people react when there is an impending disaster.  So the whole world was fascinating and even though a lot didn’t seem to be happening, I was never bored.

The main character is also fascinating.  Despite the world ending, he is determined to solve the case of a man who appears to have committed suicide.  No one thinks it was a murder but he can’t ignore his hunches and continues to investigate.  There isn’t a ton of back story on him but he has an interesting perspective and is often unintentionally funny.

While I found the setting and the internal thoughts of the detective to be the most interesting parts, the mystery itself was also intriguing and kept you guessing as well as being unsure about where the book was going.  Was it a suicide after all?  Is the detective wrong?  What’s really going on in this book?

So yeah, this was a fun read but also intellectually stimulating because of the setting and the questions it raised.  And, even though it involved death, I didn’t find the book gruesome or disgusting, so it gets extra points for that.  Highly recommended for anyone who likes mysteries, science fiction, or pre-apocalyptic books.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

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