Tag Archives: series

The Last Policeman

10 Aug

Over the weekend I finished the last installment of Ben H. Winter’s “The Last Policeman” trilogy. Since beginning my long commute I have been reading more audiobooks as I have mentioned and mysteries are one type of audiobook that I find I listen to best.

We started the first title of the trilogy last year on a road trip to Missouri. My husband doesn’t usually listen to audiobooks so I knew it was a good pick when we found ourselves lingering in the car to finish just a little bit more of this book.

What it’s about: 

An asteroid, nicknamed Maia, is hurtling toward Earth and will kill everyone on the planet when it strikes. Upon hearing this news it’s only natural that the citizens of earth lose it. Most people simply walk away from their lives or their work to fulfill “bucket lists.” This series takes place over the last 6 months just before the asteroid hits. Panic ensues, infrastructure fails, and soon people are running out of food, gas, and options. Suicide becomes so prevalent that eventually there is no need for detectives to sort out the “whodunit” but instead the need for enforcers rises. Hank Palace, our last policeman, is a new detective, recently promoted, who is called to the scene of a suicide. Because of his natural inclination to solve crimes, Palace of course notices right away that this is not a suicide.

The trilogy follows Palace as he hunts down suspects like a dog. He is unrelenting in his quests. Palace is one of the small percentage of humans left that will simply not quit. Being a detective IS who Palace is. It’s what he does. So, naturally, as the asteroid gets close to earth so too does Palace to the killer. The second installment is a missing person’s case—one that reveals society’s further collapse. Palace’s sister, Nico, is involved in a conspiracy group trying to save the earth by blowing up the asteroid. And in the end of the trilogy we find a broken and battered Hank with his ever faithful bichon, Houdini, still at his side solving crimes. This time looking for Nico and in this book we get the finale we’ve been waiting for.

Why this series is great: 

We’ve had a lot of post-apocalyptic stories recently. A flood of them, in fact. Viruses, zombies, unnamed catastrophes. But we are always given the story of after. Winters instead looks to the just before. What would it really be like if we were given the news that a 6.5 km wide asteroid will hit Earth in October, giving the world the news in January? What would a person do with that information?

Through Henry’s investigations we see many different responses to the asteroid:  desperation, suicide, conspiracy, obsession, religion, and even manipulation. Because Hank—Henry as we come to know him—is so thorough we see the world’s destruction through his eyes. Henry is a good man, one that wants to solve the crime. But he becomes increasingly confused and we learn that his parents died when he and his sister were young causing him to become, as one character suggests, a sort of Bruce Wayne. He is a man who is trying to save the world but in this time of Maia the best he can do is solve a case and do what is right.

Henry is a man guided by his own moral compass and one that is both honest and dogged. He is obsessed with his job but loves his sister, Nico, to the point that even in the final hours she is on his mind. He has charged himself with watching over her and he never gives up on keeping her safe.

This series is great because not only do we receive from Winter’s a complex main character we receive from him an enticing story. Knowing that this series WILL end a certain way makes the story even more desperate and even more intoxicating. Why does Henry Palace even care? We find ourselves following him wherever he will take us, even to the end of the world.

The Last Policeman series by Ben H. Winters:

  1. The Last Policeman
  2. Countdown City
  3. World of Trouble