The Last Policeman

I did, when we had the post-Christmas health crisis, as one does: reach for a stack of detective stories. Just like they are the perfect vacation reads, they are also the perfect getting-away-from-ugly-reality reads. And the best of the bunch were a pair, part one and two in what is to be a trilogy, "The Last Policeman"-series, by Ben H Winters. If I remember correctly, I got the tip from blogger Divers&Sundry, and I´m glad I took note, since this is a really enjoyable read. The first is "The Last Policeman: A Novel" and the second "Countdown City: The Last Policeman Book II".

Not a meteor, obviously, but the closest I have of a fitting illustration.
On one hand, it´s a traditional detective story, told in first-person by Detective Henry Palace of the Concord Police Department´s Criminal Investigations Division. He is young, having been quickly promoted since many colleagues have quit. This is happening a lot, not just in the Police Department, since a meteor is heading straight for Earth and the world as we know it is about to perish in just a few months. That is, I guess, what makes this novel stick out a bit from the rest of them.

So, it´s the end of the world, many people are going "Bucket List," which means that they suddenly, and often without telling anyone, leave their jobs and lives to do what they always dreamed of doing, whatever that is. Others stubbornly try to live their lives and do their jobs as best they can, and for Henry Palace, being a Detective is all he ever wanted. As we get to know him better, we realize that he has a lot more emotional baggage than just the pressure from the End of the world-thing. For him, doing the work is clearly a way of escaping his own worries, and whatever happens, he stays with the case. And things do happen. Society is breaking down all around him: hospitals, electricity, communications, food and water supplies, and finally he looses his job when the police- and justice system is replaced by a kind of military peace keeping force.

It´s been a few months since I read it, but I realize now how much this story affected me. I really like the main character, he is kind, good, obsessed with justice, and has little regard for his own safety - I suppose there is quite a bit of passive self-destructivness about him. He is, however, not the only good character in this story, and when he finally finds himself on the street, things do turn out all right for him. For now, that is. The meteor is still coming, after all.

It´s a well-written series, the whole breakdown of society scenario sounds plausible to me, and I really want to know what´s going to happen to my friend Palace. And to the Earth. The third book is on its way and will be along this summer, I think.


  1. thx for the hat tip :) i'm glad you enjoyed them. i keep checking for the 3rd one but haven't seen it yet.

    1. July 15, says amazon. It will be great for those rainy September evenings...