The Last Policeman by Ben Winters

‘This is real.  Is it?  I don’t know.’

Set in a pre-apocalyptic USA, just six months before asteroid 2011GV1 is going to hit the earth.  There is no chance the asteroid will miss and no hope for survival.  So, what do people do when the end really is imminent?  Most people walk off their jobs, pursuing those things they think important.

But not Detective Henry Palace.  He is investigating a death by hanging in a city where there are a dozen suicides a week.  He thinks this death is suspicious, but no-one else seems to care.  The economy is suffering, infrastructure is failing, and crops are rotting in the field.  Even if this apparent suicide is a murder, what is the point in investigating it when the world is about to end?

Well, to Henry (Hank) Palace there is a point.  And so, he works his away around the bureaucratic barriers put in the way of his investigation.

This novel is the first in a trilogy, and I enjoyed it enough to line up the next two.  It was not the suspicious death that hooked me (although it does have some great twists), and it was not really my admiration of Hank Palace’s commitment to his job.  No, it was reading about people’s reactions to the imminent end of the world and wondering what I would do in a similar situation.

This is not cheerful reading during a pandemic, but it did enable me to think about something other than Covid-19 for just a little while.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith