Review of The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters

The Last PolicemanThe Last Policeman
By: Ben H. Winters
Release Date: July 10th 2012
Publisher: by Quirk Books
Source: Paperback

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:

What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die soon, anyway?

Detective Hank Palace has faced this question ever since asteroid 2011GV1 hovered into view. There’s no chance left. No hope. Just six precious months until impact.

The Last Policeman presents a fascinating portrait of a pre-apocalyptic United States. The economy spirals downward while crops rot in the fields. Churches and synagogues are packed. People all over the world are walking off the job—but not Hank Palace. He’s investigating a death by hanging in a city that sees a dozen suicides every week—except this one feels suspicious, and Palace is the only cop who cares.

My Thoughts:
The Last Policeman was nothing like the typical book I encounter. I was drawn to reading it due to the detective story taking place shortly before an asteroid is scheduled to hit the Earth. What an amazing concept, right? Well, Mr. Winters pulled it off and created an engrossing, beautifully written and heart aching sad, yet somehow hopeful book.

Though the setting is not your typical detective type of setting (with Earth’s imminent doom lurking around the corner) it still had a very classic noire feel and played on some great tropes of the detective genre. Winters captured the boy’s club feel between the police detectives and yet was able to always show how our main character never exactly fit in. There was this video game a few years back, L.A. Noire–as I read I couldn’t help but picture imagery from that game. It was set in the 1940’s and you played as the detective–roaming around finding clues and putting the puzzle pieces together. With the asteroid closing in on Earth the internet doesn’t work and phone signals are spotty. Our detective had to resort back to more classic crime fitting methods.

Not only does Hank have a very high stress job, add that to the stress of the world about to erupt in utter chaos…the book has some stressful moments though overall it was very enjoyable. It dealt with deep subject matter- suicides, depression, drug abuse, end times, murder and yet, somehow, it still felt rather cheerful? It was an odd thing to find in a book with this subject matter. I never really felt down while reading, which I was a tad worried about going into it. I did however, sit and ponder what I would do if I thought an asteroid was set to hit Earth. Would I continue my everyday life? Would my husband go to work? What would life be like and would I be able to take the pressure of watching the days and hours tick by?

Winters was able to create a hauntingly realistic depiction of Earth preparing for its doom. He populated this pre-apocalyptic world with characters well rounded and a protagonist set on doing the best with the time remaining. I loved Hank’s morality, strength and hope. He was all of those things yet still managed to be realistic and relatable.  I also adored Winter’s ability to create a scene and fill in all the small details to make you feel like you were right there with Detective Hank Palace (even if at times you would rather not be seeing what he sees).

Because this book is written for an adult audience the pacing was a bit slower than I’m used to so I was able to stretch my reading time out for a few days. As stated about, the material was on the darker side though it never felt gratuitous.

Final Thoughts:
The Last Policeman was an incredibly interesting, thought provoking detective story overlaid with a pre-apocalyptic setting. I absolutely adored this mix and can’t wait to read the second in the series.


  1. says

    Amazing review Kristen. <3 I'm glad you mostly enjoyed this book 😀 Sounds interesting 😉 You keep reading all these books I wouldn't read, lol. But glad you liked it 😀 I do like mystery books. (But yeah, only YA or MG for me ;p)

  2. says

    PRE-apocalyptic? That’s awesome! I heard about this book in passing but actually had no idea what it was about. The setting, classic noir feel and detective story, and time period makes for a fascinating combination, though. Thanks so much for the review, I’ll have to check this out!

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

    • says

      Wendy, I think you’d like this one! I was very impressed with the melding of genres and the writing. Pacing was a tad slow but typical for the adult reads. I hope you enjoy it! It is set in the near future (or present I can’t actually recall) but has the old noir detective boy’s club aura.

  3. says

    Ooooh, I had not heard about this one before! A pre-apocalyptic detective story? This sounds super intriguing!
    I will be keeping an eye open for it!
    Thanks for a great review, Wendy!

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