The Last Policeman

Ben H. Winters
The Last Policeman Cover

The Last Policeman


I so wanted to be able to give this book a higher recommendation.

This is a fast read, decently-written and with an interesting premise: an Extinction-Level-Event is going to occur in 6 months when an asteroid collides with Earth.

As would be expected, news of the impending end-of-the-world has resulted in a planetwide breakdown in social structures, including law enforcement. Many police have resigned or retired to pursue their Bucket Lists -- and as a consequence, Patrolman Hank Palace gets his dream promotion to Detective.

Unsurprisingly, suicides are on the rise -- so much so that they are no longer being investigated. But when Palace gets called to yet another self-hanging, something just doesn't seem right. Instinct and several small anomalies convince the detective that this was a murder -- and he doggedly pursues an investigation as the world continues to go to hell around him.

The writing and plotting are solid and the story kept me interested. I also give the author high marks for not "pulling an Agatha Christie" (finessing a solution out of thin air, which the reader could not possibly have reached by the clues given).

But... with such a tantalizing setup and a flawed-but-really-likeable main character, I was really expecting -- hoping -- that the answer to the mystery would be interesting, rather than incredibly mundane, as it turned out to be. There was so much potential, but then the book just turned out to be an ordinary mystery placed in a science-fictional setting.

I enjoyed the book, and don't feel that the time I spent reading it was wasted. But what a disappointment, that the author didn't capitalize on the potential for a truly remarkable mystery.