World of Trouble

Ben H. Winters
World of Trouble Cover

World of Trouble


World of Trouble is the last novel in the Ben H. Winters "The Last Policeman Trilogy." It takes place 2 weeks before the world ending asteroid is set to strike the Earth. Because this is the last novel, it would be hard to write a review without giving away spoilers, so I will be breaking this review into two parts, non-spoiler discussion and spoilers, just bear with me.

Non-spoilers to start with. At 316 pages, this is a short novel and a very quick read, at least it was for me. Once I started, I had trouble putting this book down. Apparently, and without my realizing it, I have become very attached to ex-detective Hank Palace and his dog Houdini. Mr. Winters created a flawed but compelling protagonist that was just an overall good person thrust into an unwinnable situation. As in the other two, this novel was written in first person prose. Although the characters are pretty one dimensional, this actually works in the novel because in general, Hank's interactions are single purpose focused and usually quite short. The exception to this is Houdini, the dog, and to a lesser extent Nico, Hanks sister, and of course Hank. Because we are introduced to all the characters from Hank's point of view, they are really only "fleshed out" according to how much they are able to help him in his investigation.

Major spoilers follow, you have been warned.......

So, when I finished this third and final novel, I cried. I mean there were literal tears standing in my eyes. I know some reviewers will write it for dramatic purpose, but this time, I actually needed a tissue and I had to tell my dad who was in the room with me that I was having problems with allergies and it was probably time to change my filter. It was the damn dog, Houdini. Why would Ben Winters make that precious little dog so loyal! I mean come on, I'm not a crier. I did not shed a single tear when I saw Titanic. Shindler's List, I made comments to everyone that the red coat was the cheapest piece of sentimental schlock I had seen in years (probably since Titanic!) But the loyalty of Houdini was more than I could take. For the first time in this book series, the tone of the novel was as dark and bleak as one would expect an "end of the world" novel to be. With two weeks until disaster strikes the earth, the world of Hank Palace is collapsing around his ears.

Right along in these novels, I have felt so bad for the main character and his coping mechanisms for dealing with the asteroid. Throughout the novels Hank talked about "asteroid psychosis" and the different forms it took in the people he had dealings with. His sister Nico's belief in the conspiracy, the various characters who went "bucket list" or just "checked out" either physically by suicide or mentally by just going insane. But it is not until this final book that his own unique coping mechanism, becomes a full-fledged psychosis.

Please understand that I totally understand Hank's passion to find his sister. She is his only living relative, and when my time comes, I pray that I will be with my loved ones, but this is not the motivation to find his sister. It is not to be with her, but to solve the mystery of her disappearance. Even when he does find her, it is not enough, he is unable to let the mystery go until he solves it to his satisfaction.

And through all of this he drags this dog, a faithful little island of love and companionship, with him through his madness. It is only at the point that Houdini is physically no able to follow him anymore that he gives him up, the bastard.

I'm not sure if it shows how optimistic or just plain naive I am that I was fervently hoping that Hank's sister Nico was right and that there was a possibility to avert the asteroid. I mean I knew this novel was not going to end with a happy ending, not even a warped and twisted "happy ending" like in Lucifer's Hammer. But I really, really wanted there to be one.

The ending we do get is, if not happy, completely satisfactory. The people Hank ends up with are not loved ones, but do love him. He finds an island of peace and unconditional acceptance in the end, and in his last moments he feels the physical touch of another human who knows what he is feeling. And he is reunited with Houdini, who is probably a better friend than he deserved.

5 of 5 stars