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Countdown City: The Last Policeman Book II (The Last Policeman Trilogy) Paperback – July 16, 2013
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From Publishers Weekly
In this sequel to Edgar Award-winning The Last Policeman, Winters intensifies his vision of a lawless apocalyptic society as an asteroid nicknamed "Maia" continues its deadly trajectory toward Earth. Impact: October 3rd. Seventy-seven days from when the narrative picks up. Set in Concord, N.H., where the police force is fraying and money has no value, people are frantically fleeing the Eastern Hemisphere to seek refuge from Maia's direct path, amidst hundreds of U.S. citizens who are simply disappearing. Narrator and straight-laced detective Hank Palace has lost his job, but he still can't resist helping his childhood babysitter Martha Cavatone locate her missing husband. With the end of the world nigh—and a bike as his only mode of transportation—this is no easy task. Clues lead Palace to a colonization of radicals who've overtaken the University of New Hampshire and followed by a forsaken coastal fort used to execute catastrophe immigrants as they approach the shore. While not as well paced or marvelously original as its predecessor, this second installment in a planned trilogy is darker, more violent and more oppressive. Through it all Palace remains a likeable hero for end times, and with Concord already in ruins, readers are left to wonder how he'll survive to tell his final tale. (July)
For those who haven’t read The Last Policeman (2012), here’s what you need to know: the world is doomed. An asteroid is going to smash into the planet earth in the very near future. Society is in disarray. A lot of people have already checked out, via suicide or just vanishing entirely. Law and order is more of an idea than a practical reality. Hank Palace is a police officer—well, he used to be, before the police department was shut down a few months ago. Now, like most people, he’s unemployed. When an old friend asks him to find her missing husband, Hank reluctantly agrees. But how do you find a missing person when half the people in the country aren’t where they’re supposed to be? As with the first Hank Palace novel (this is volume 2 of a projected trilogy), the mystery element is strong, and the strange, pre-apocalyptic world is highly imaginative and also very plausible—it’s easy to think that the impending end of the world might feel very much like this. Genre mash-up master Winters is at it again. --David Pitt
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Young Hank Palace is a detective thrown out of the force as they ceased to bother detecting anything. But his natural instinct is to help people and investigate. He copes with the impending end of everything by doing what he always wanted to do. Detect and help but now there are no phones, no internet, no facilities or cars. And not many people that care.
Within this environment of a decaying society and a change of values, Hank follows up on a missing person and the trail takes him into some strange and dangerous places..
I enjoyed this as much as I did the first book, a great deal. Hank is a 'normal' guy just doing what he always wanted to. He makes mistakes is not a gun wielding hero but an everyday guy through which a horrible world is depicted.
Holy mackerel, what a fantastic second book! I don't usually get to say that so it is a particular pleasure to have loved this book so much.
Ben Winters did a masterful job of making me intensely interested in the mystery when former police detective Hank Palace is asked by an old friend to find her missing husband. This is almost impossible in a world where going "Bucket List" is common and society is hanging on by a thread with no technological communications left. Of course, Hank can't turn down this personal plea.
Hank's investigation gives Winters the perfect vehicle to simultaneously display some American society's odd mutations in response to the impending asteroid strike. His single-minded hero forges ahead despite all obstacles because that's the only way he knows to tackle his problems. This dual mystery-apocalyptic scene made a book I simply couldn't put down.
I especially enjoyed the fact that the characters seem very real. I was intensely anxious, for example, about Hank's dog, Houdini, when he took him along to infiltrate a college campus that has become an anarchist encampment. Houdini does indeed become threatened which becomes an obsessive worry for Hank (and me). And the result? Completely unexpected by Hank (or me). But absolutely typical and perfect. It was at this point that I tipped my hat to Mr. Winters.
This trilogy is shaping up to be a real classic for both the science fiction and mystery genres. I am looking forward with great anticipation to the end of the world, as seen by Detective Palace. The Last Detective and Countdown City are both going on my Best of 2013 list.
In the remaining days, Henry can't seem to relax and feels a sense of duty from his police force days. He is investigating the disappearance of Brett Cavatone. Has Brett gone "bucket list" or is he dead? Brett's wife asks Henry to find him and so he sets out to do just that.
After a bit of an investigation Henry realizes he needs help getting into a former University which has...believe it or not....seceded from what is left of the United States. Brett had hooked up with an anarchist named Julia and there is a definite conspiracy theory in the works that actually plays out to be true. Besides the hoarding of firearms the biggest problem is the U.S. Navy. They are openly shooting people who try and gain access to our shores,
That's a scary real life scenario. The military are keeping immigrants from the impacted hemisphere from entering the U.S. An asteroid is going to hit their continent and our Navy won't let them in safely! That's so rude.
There is a shootout which involves Brett and Henry with interesting consequences. I don't want to put spoilers in here but the ending resolves a few things and now I need the last book. Yes, it left you hanging just a little bit.
This photo below is from the end pages at the back of the book. I haven't checked it out yet but I am curious about how people answered.
It's not brilliant writing (in the sense of the classics :-) but it certainly kept me entertained. If you are a fan of apocalyptic lit this will be right up your alley.