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Quirk Books, 2012, 288 pages

In Ben H. Winters’ The Last Policeman, an asteroid, called 2011GV1, is heading straight for earth. Impact is just six months. Detective Hank Palace has asked himself what’s the point of solving murders if the world is going to end soon anyway.

When a body is found in the bathroom of a McDonald’s, Detective Palace doesn’t believe it’s a suicide, but a murder. Most cops in town don’t really care since a lot of people have chosen to end their lives before the asteroid hits. Anyone else Detective Palace questioned doesn’t really cares either – people are spending the reminder of their lives doing whatever they want. But for Palace, being a detective is all he ever wanted to do.

I was hesitant at first to read this novel, because the thought of earth’s impending doom scares me. But I like the idea of a detective still doing his job regardless of an asteroid (also the book cover is wicked). The book’s tone is also that of dark humour – one minute, Palace’s coworker is cracking jokes with him and the next, he throws himself in a front of a bus hijacked by teenagers:

But it’s too late. He twists his body, flicks the half-smoked cigarette back toward the bar, and throws himself in front of the bus.

It’s also a bit of a study of people’s behaviour when they all learn they only have six months to live. Some choose suicide, others choose just to stay with family, others choose to continue to do their jobs. The economy no longer exists, you can longer get a cell signal, and religious people come out of the woodwork.

It’s also interesting to compare The Last Policeman to P.D. James’ The Children of Men, as that too was about the end of the world, but it wasn’t an asteroid that would cause humanity’s death but the end of fertility. How people live out their rest of their days – in both novels, people’s behaviour is very similar, but in The Children of Men,there’s no longer a society to speak. In The Last Policeman, some people are still going to work and earning a living.

I definitely recommend this book for those who are interested in a pre-apocalyptic world. This is the first book of a trilogy and reading between the lines, I have a feeling that the author is hinting that the asteroid is made-up by the governments for the world. But that’s just conjuncture at the moment. Either way, I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy. Winters poses to us, the reader: What would any of us do, what would we really do, if our days were numbered?

Rating:

{  } Pretty bad
{  } Tolerable
{  } All right
{x} Exciting
{  } Enthralling

Book 44 out of 60

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