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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The End Is Nigh-er

Posted by on Tue, Jan 14, 2014 at 8:15 AM

I read and enjoyed Ben H. Winters's The Last Policeman about a year ago. It was a detective novel with a good gimmick: As everyone on Earth comes to terms with the fact that an asteroid is due to render all human life extinct, police detective Hank Palace tries to solve a crime. The problem is, since everyone knows that the asteroid is going to destroy the planet in a matter of months, normal daily life has pretty much fallen apart. It interferes with Palace's investigation and makes everything more complicated.

I didn't realize at the time that The Last Policeman was the first book in a projected trilogy, and I confess to being nervous about reading the second book in the series, Countdown City. Mystery series are tough to pull off, and a mystery series set at the end of the world seems even tougher. And it's true that Countdown City does lose some of the goodwill that The Last Policeman earned. Palace is a little less charming than he was when we were first getting to know him. But the plot makes up for the lack of novelty: as the incoming asteroid gets closer to Earth, society is crumbling even further, and Palace's job is getting harder and harder. When a woman from Palace's past asks him to find her missing husband, he's got to make his way through a world where gasoline, food, and attention are all dwindling resources. Everyone feels a little edgier in Countdown City, the circumstances feel a little more desperate as the asteroid approaches.

Everything comes together in an interesting way, and Countdown City brings things to as much of a close as a mid-trilogy entry possibly can. But now that I've followed Palace for two books, I can't wait to read the third book in this series. I also hope that the third book will follow through with Winters's promise to bring an ending to the series. The world can only take so long to end before the whole thing feels like an empty threat.


Comments (7) RSS

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Thanks for the suggestion - I just downloaded the first one and will see how it goes!
Posted by DevoutAtheist on January 14, 2014 at 8:43 AM · Report this
The world can only take so long to end before the whole thing feels like an empty threat.

I first read The Population Bomb in 1968 (at 11) and I know what you mean.
Posted by LMcGuff on January 14, 2014 at 9:03 AM · Report this
Gurldoggie 3
This sounds right up my alley. Thanks for the suggestion.
Posted by Gurldoggie on January 14, 2014 at 9:45 AM · Report this
Scotto 4
hmm i tried and failed to get into this. the first book was interesting but the second one felt like a rehash of the setting instead of a deeper look, and your observation that palace is less charming is spot on to the point where i started to doubt my recollection of enjoying the first book. i gave up on this at the end of the kindle sample.
Posted by Scotto on January 14, 2014 at 9:48 AM · Report this
biffp 5
Agree with @1 and 3. Appreciate the suggestion.
Posted by biffp on January 14, 2014 at 11:01 AM · Report this
Read it a couple of months ago. You definitely want to start with The Last Policeman and then read Countdown City. I'm not sure how the stories would hold up individually.

A very good yarn.
Posted by bobbelieu on January 14, 2014 at 2:32 PM · Report this
djwudi 7
You may be interested in knowing that Countdown City has been nominated for a [2014 P. K. Dick Award][1]. The award winners will be announced Friday, April 18, 2014 at [Norwescon][2], the local science-fiction and fantasy convention.


Paul: If you or anyone else from The Stranger would be interested in covering the award ceremony and/or the rest of the convention, information on requesting press passes is available on our website [here][3].

Posted by djwudi on January 15, 2014 at 10:49 AM · Report this

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