Book Banter: The Last Policeman trilogy

last policeman trilogyTitle: The Last Policeman, Countdown City, World of Trouble

Author: Ben H. Winters

Genre: mystery/sci-fi

Length: ~325 pages each

Where Bethany’s copies came from: The Indianapolis Public Library print and digital collections

Plot Basics: Hank Palace is going to keep solving crimes as a Detective with the Concord, New Hampshire police department until the Maia asteroid hits the planet on an unavoidable collision course. Society is starting to falter, people hording supplies, living out their last months in a flurry of doing whatever their want. Hank wants to solve crimes and keep people safe.

Banter Points: Sometimes concept and execution of a novel come together in entrancing ways; that is this trilogy. I read each of these books in about day; “World of Trouble” was devoured even faster, about 70 pages over lunch and the rest after work. It’s a crazy concept, the last cop still trying to work for truth and justice, in the face of this known catastrophe and a logical breakdown of society. (Things like phone service are spotty at best as companies have stopped fixing things… why bother?)

Winters hasn’t written a cop novel, not exactly, nor a sci-fi novel, nor a dystopian novel, nor a literary fiction; it’s all of them together. The story follows the structure of great police/detective fiction — a crime, a clue misinterpreted, that sort of thing. But the story is so much deeper, about how people carry on in the face of catastrophe, what people find their identity in and put their trust in. As the date of the asteroid collision gets closer and closer, Hank (and everyone else) must come to grips with the most important parts of their lives, a narrowing of focus about what’s worth struggling for.

Bummer Points: I’m actually bummed that I read all of these books so quickly. I really want to put them on my reread list and soon in an attempt to savor the words on the page more now that I know what happens. I had the sense that there were some real gems of sentences going past, but couldn’t appreciate them individually in the scope of the whole (which was too good to stop devouring).

Word Nerd Recommendation: I’ve never had to wonder before I can put an entire trilogy in my Top 10 list before, but it’s under serious consideration. I may have convinced General Grammar to give these go and I’ve recommended them to multiple other people.

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