Wednesday 13 February 2013

A ReadItDaddy "Daddy" review of "The Last Policeman" by Ben H. Winters (Quirk Books)

The Last Policeman (Cover)
As you have probably noticed, Daddy hijacks the blog now and again to post reviews of books that are distinctly grown up.

Ever since I first heard about "The Last Policeman" it joined the teetering wishlist of books. Thanks to Mat Archer and Quirk Books, I've now read my early birthday present and it's every bit as brilliant as I hoped it would be.

The "book hook" here is just too enticing to pass up, and sets a billion questions churning in the mind of the reader even before they read the first chapter.

"The world is ending. No get out clause. No reprieve. What would you do?"

The world in "The Last Policeman" is an astonishingly unfamiliar place, a world with the Sword of Damocles (or in this case, Asteroid 2011GV1) hanging over its head.

Hank Palace, a detective, chooses to handle the world's premature death sentence by going to work.

Investigating a suicide, Palace soon becomes entwined in a case with the darkest of hidden depths and complexities that threaten to pull in and destroy those he holds dear. Hitting dead ends and a whole world of apathy, it's up to Palace to prove that the seemingly clear-cut suicide case is anything but.

Ben H. Winter's pre-apocalyptic world piques your curiosity at every page turn, and forces the reader to answer those questions. What would we do? How would we react if we knew that our death day was tangible? How strong could we be in a situation where life is reduced to survival and instinct instead of comfortable existence? It's a fascinating glimpse of how even the mightiest companies and networks completely crumble and fall apart as their most valuable resource - humans to flip the burgers, flick the switches - or indeed investigate murders - stop caring and await the inevitable.

My initial fear that knowing the fate of the world right off the bat would mean this novel had nowhere else to go was thankfully unfounded. This is a book that keeps you guessing, and keeps you gripped throughout. Hank Palace is no action-packed superhero detective with a witty quip to suit every situation. If anything, he's one of the most humbling and human characters I've seen in a novel for quite some time. Someone who carries on when everything is utterly hopeless. I just couldn't put this down and am seriously contemplating sacking off the rest of the reading list to start it all over again.

This is the first book in a trilogy. Brilliant stuff, more please soon Ben!