If a huge asteroid was heading towards earth threating to destroy all mankind, what would you do? Would you even bother to continue working? Would you worry about solving a crime? Detective Hank Palace is determined to solve a suspicious suicide even when the rest of the world doesn’t care in this apocalyptic whodunit, making him The Last Policeman.
I love the idea of blending apocalyptic fiction with a pulp type crime novel. The world is in decline and Hank Palace has only just made detective. So without anyone else caring about this crime, why would he spend so much time trying to prove himself as a homicide detective? This really is the driving force of this book; you are always questioning the motivation of Palace when the rest of the world wants to live life to its fullest.
Personally I would have liked to see Hank to be a bit more hard-boiled but the idea of being a newbie to the force wanting to prove himself was pretty enjoyable. He was a little unsure and sometimes too timid but he never gave up. I would have loved to see more depth to the character but as this is a planned trilogy I think the author is saving some more for the next two books. Unfortunately all the others are just background characters and they never had the development they deserved. I think this might have been just a lack of experience from author Ben H. Winters; best known for his mash up novels Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and Android Karenina.
The crime itself was pretty straight forward and even predictable but the problems with solving the case was trying to do it without any forensic or police help, so I feel like I can forgive Winters for this. Then there is the subplot which forces more on the apocalyptic struggle to try and survive aspects. I felt like this was the biggest let down of the book, I know he wanted to help his sister but as a reader I felt like it was just fleshing out the novel and trying to make sure it’s at least 300 pages long.
I’m interested to see what author Ben H. Winters does with this trilogy; I’m hoping he grows as a writer and incorporates more pulp elements in the next two books. Detective Palace has real potential as a protagonist; he has some appeal to him already but with some development he could be great. I like the Science-Fiction pulp mash-up and I hope this continues, Winters has a great idea here and with some love and hard work this will turn out to be a great trilogy.