The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters
Quirk Books - Fiction/Mystery/Pre-apocalyptic
I'm staring at the insurance man and he's staring at me, two cold gray eyes behind old-fashioned tortoiseshell frames, and I'm having this awful and inspiring feeling, like holy moly this is real, and I don't know if I'm ready, I really don't.
In The Last Policeman, Hank Palace is a young detective who thinks a death by hanging is actually a murder. He is, however, the only officer who gives a flip about solving the case (if it really is a murder) because the world is going to be hit by an asteroid in approximately 6 months and everyone's going to die, anyway.
The Last Policeman is pre-apocalyptic in the manner of On the Beach by Nevil Shute (although, the apocalyptic event has already occurred in On the Beach) in that everyone's going to die and they know it. So, The Last Policeman not only explores a possible murder but the reaction of the characters to their impending doom. But, what makes The Last Policeman really special is the fact that the author has a terrific sense of humor.
I can picture him, the thug resplendent: loops of chain drooping from black jeans, skull-and-crossbones pinky ring, scrawny wrists and forearms crawling with several species of tattoo snakes. The rat-eyed face twisted with melodramatic outrage, having to answer the phone, take orders from a stuck-up egghead policeman like myself. But look, I mean, that's what you get for being a drug dealer, and moreover for getting caught, at this juncture in American history. Victor may not know by heart the full text of the Impact Preparation Security and Stabilization Act, but he's got the gist.
No one is really sure--even those of us who have read the eight-hundred-page law from beginning to end, scored it and underlined it, done our best to keep current with the various amendments and codicils--not a hundred percent sure what the "Preparation" parts of IPSS are supposed to be, exactly. McGully likes to say that sometime around late September they'll start handing out umbrellas.
"You know what I'm doing right now?" I say, watching the muddy liquid rush toward the edge of the table. "I'm thinking: Oh no! The coffee's going to spill onto the floor! I'm so worried! Let's keep talking about it!"
And then the coffee waterfalls over the side of the desk, splashing on Andreas's shoes and pooling on the ground beneath the desk.
"Oh, look at that," I say. "It happened anyway."
You can view the book trailer for The Last Policeman, here.
Highly recommended - This is such great writing: sharp, hilarious, an instant favorite, the kind of rare book that is so quotable I found myself reading excerpts to my husband (with whom I will only share a passage if I think he'll laugh or a quote will generate a decent discussion -- he laughed, every time). I particularly love the fact that Hank Palace's attitude to the question, "What do you do when you're going to die in 6 months?" is, "Might as well just keep on working." Whenever someone says something particularly positive about just getting on with life, he always says something to the effect of, "I like that person. Him, I like." Cool. It's been a few weeks since I read The Last Policeman and I still have that "bounce, bounce, bounce, can't-wait -for-the-next-in-the-series" feeling.
The Last Policeman is a book that was added to my personal collection recently, thanks to the generosity of my friend Sandie. Thanks, Sandie!
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