The Last Policeman

by Ben H. Winters | Mystery & Thrillers |
ISBN: 9781594746741 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 11/2/2019
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2 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Saturday, November 02, 2019
I got this softcover at a local Goodwill thrift shop, for another release copy.

The concept of this book intrigued me: on the brink of a global apocalypse, what would a police detective do? "What's the point in solving murders if we're all going to die soon, anyway?" [It's set in my general area, too, mainly in Concord NH but with visits to Boston, for that local-apocalypse touch...]

I found this very enjoyable, in a noir, twisted kind of way - and it presents some interesting ideas as to what the global reaction might be to a definite end-of-the-world countdown. It's mainly a mystery, but as it's set in a society that's been drastically altered by the confirmation that an approaching asteroid will strike the Earth six months from now, it has somber overtones (and more direct plot-points) that severely affect the investigation. (Among them: the ennui of the authorities, who've pretty much decided that the best they can do is try to prevent as much looting and violence as they can, but they have little interest in solving less-obvious crimes when the criminal is going to suffer the same fate as everyone else in less time than it would take to get to trial. Although the current law-enforcement methods are rather Draconian: anyone caught committing a crime is simply placed in jail right away, guaranteeing that they'll spend their final months staring at the walls...)

The story is sprinkled with tidbits about the changes that have taken place, including small ones (7-11s and Dunkin Donuts have all closed, but Panera's still open, though "the couple who owns the chain have undergone a meaningful spiritual experience and restaffed most of the restaurants with coreligionists, so it's not worth going in there unless you want to hear the Good News") and larger ones (such as the dropping off of communications providers, making phone service increasingly spotty).

Many people have responded to the situation by quitting work entirely, planning to spend their remaining time enjoying themselves as best they can, but a surprisingly large number of people seem to have preferred to keep to the normal routine. [Interesting discussion points here; is this believable? What would you do? Would it depend on what kind of job it was (hence the fast-food chains collapsing), or just what's the least scary thing to cling to?]

At one point the story fills us in on the background of the approaching asteroid, the ongoing calculations to determine the likelihood of a strike, etc. - along with the decision whether to announce it or not, given that nobody knew how the world population would react. (We find out more about this as the story progresses, but, again, while there were some riots and societal collapses, there was a surprising amount of just going about one's daily business...)

Among the side plots: a blogger who's convinced that the calculations are wrong and that the thing won't hit; and rumors that there are safe bases on the moon (for the privileged, of course).

Despite the gloomy premise, there are some lovely grace-notes here and there, including a romance between our hero and a woman he meets in the course of the investigation. At one point she talks about her poetry - she writes villanelles, a form I'd stumbled upon in the quirky Send Bygraves, a charming little touch...

That said, the story's a dark one, with a hero who acknowledges to himself that he's plodding through things that don't matter at all under the circumstances, but who keeps going; "dogged" would be the keyword here. And even after he's untangled the threads of the case nobody else is interested in, he finds himself digging further - and learning things he didn't want to know.

[There's a short TV Tropes page on the trilogy.]

This book is followed by two more, Countdown City and World of Trouble.

Released 11 mos ago (11/4/2019 UTC) at Prospect Park (see notes for details) in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts USA

WILD RELEASE NOTES:

I left this book, bagged against the elements, on the stone gate at the park entrance; hope someone enjoys it!

[See other recent releases in MA here.]

*** Released for the 2019 The The Release Challenge. ***

Journal Entry 3 by erinbhoward at Shrewsbury, Massachusetts USA on Wednesday, November 06, 2019
Found this at the entrance of the park behind my house. Will update once I finish it.

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