Monday, May 20, 2013

The Last Policeman by Ben Winters: Why Investigate a Murder If the World is Ending?

The Last PolicemanThe Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The date that everybody knows is October 3, six months and eleven days from today, when a 6.5-kilometer-diameter ball of carbon and silicates will collide with Earth.
Reading this book, I mused that perhaps all this science is not the best thing for us. Surely the dinosaurs were just living life as usual right up to the last moment before that meteor hit. I'd rather have that be the case than have horrific scenes of doom from outer space hanging over my head for months.

As one might predict, some people are led to religion, some are led to anarchy, and many are led to self destruction. Among the great majority simply trying to go on living their lives is homicide detective Hank Palace. When an obvious suicide scene seems a little off, he begins investigating.

What's the point of investigating a possible murder when the world is ending in a few months? Palace isn't able to answer that question easily but, as we see a few other focused, balanced individuals appear throughout this narrative, an answer does emerge.
"One thing we can learn from Shakespeare, Hen, is that every action has a motive."

I'm looking at him, holding this drooping sandwich bag full of ice to my bruised forehead.

"Do you see it, son? Anybody does anything, I don't care what it is, there's a reason for it. No action comes divorced from motive, neither in art nor in life."

"For heaven's sake, dear," says my mother, squatting before me peering into my pupils to eliminate the possibility of concussion. "A bully is a bully."

"Ah, yes," Father says, pats me on the head, wanders out of the kitchen. "But, wherefore doth he become a bully?"
This is a murder mystery, a novel of self discovery, a pre-apocalyptic scenario, and it works on all those levels. I read in one evening and, needless to say, I really enjoyed it. Certainly I was surprised by the solution, which is in the best tradition of murder mysteries.

This is the first of a trilogy and I'm looking forward to the second book.

1 comment:

  1. You've convinced me. I'll give this one a try.

    I held off reading Children of Men after watching the depressing movie. The book was an amazing revelation of hope and self sacrifice.

    The point being plausible "end of world" books tend to knock me off my peace.