The Last Policeman: A Novel

Paperback | July 10, 2012

byBen Winters

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"[The] weird, beautiful, unapologetically apocalyptic Last Policeman trilogy is one of my favorite mystery series."—John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns

Winner of the 2013 Edgar® Award Winner for Best Paperback Original!

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.
The first in a trilogy, The Last Policeman offers a mystery set on the brink of an apocalypse. As Palace’s investigation plays out under the shadow of 2011GV1, we’re confronted by hard questions way beyond “whodunit.” What basis does civilization rest upon? What is life worth? What would any of us do, what would we really do, if our days were numbered?

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From the Publisher

"[The] weird, beautiful, unapologetically apocalyptic Last Policeman trilogy is one of my favorite mystery series."—John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars and Paper TownsWinner of the 2013 Edgar® Award Winner for Best Paperback Original!What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die soon, anyway?   Detective Hank P...

New York Times best-selling author Ben H. Winters won an Edgar Award for his debut mystery The Last Policeman. His YA novel The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman was also nominated for an Edgar Award. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife and three children.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 8 × 5.31 × 0.84 inPublished:July 10, 2012Publisher:Quirk BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1594745765

ISBN - 13:9781594745768

Customer Reviews of The Last Policeman: A Novel


Rated 3 out of 5 by from The Last Policeman Well written. Dynamic and intriguing setting. Mediocre mystery. I will read the rest of the trilogy for the asteroid.
Date published: 2015-07-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Last Policeman One of the best mysteries I've read in a long time. Setting a detective story against an imminent apocalypse (there's a giant asteroid speeding towards the earth) is wonderfully macabre and heart-wrenching. Winters catalogs the breakdown of society just as elegantly as the mystery Hank Palace is working to solve. Definitely recommended.
Date published: 2014-01-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from What would you do Ben H. Winters. You might recognize this author's name - he penned the New York Times bestseller Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. Winters' latest book The Last Policeman is just as imaginative and inventive. I've got a fondness for post apocalyptic fiction, but Winters has penned a pre-apocalyptic novel. The Last Policeman is set in the months before the world as we know it will end. It is inevitable - an asteroid is going to hit the earth and the impact will destroy our planet. What would you do, knowing the world was ending? Start ticking off items on your bucket list? End things on your terms? Henry Castle does none of that, instead he continues on as normal. He's a newly appointed detective on a police force that is dwindling, both in resources and manpower. When Henry is called to an apparent suicide, he can't shake the niggling feeling that this death may not be what it looks like. And in a world about to end, Henry pursues this case as a murder. Henry was such an engaging character - earnest, forthright, honest, polite, trusting and an anomaly in these times. Even though the world will end, he chooses to stay true to himself and his beliefs until the day that happens. Winters' plot is full of twists and red herrings. I truly enjoyed Hank's dogged and determined pursuit of the truth. "Right at this moment I have to decide, is the thing. Am I going to leave town and go north to Maine and find a house on Casco Bay and sit there and stare out the window with my sidearm and wait, or am I going to stay here and do my work and finish my case. My cases." I've read lots of post apocalyptic fiction, but it was interesting to read Winters' view of what the world might hold before that final blow. Winters gives us lots of food for thought in people's actions and words. There's a secondary plot involving Hank's sister, that I thought was filler until the last few chapters. It caught me off guard and piqued my interest for the next book, as The Last Policeman is the first in a trilogy. The Last Policeman was an unusual blend of sci-fi and mystery that just worked. I'm curious to see what else will happen before the asteroid hits.....or after.
Date published: 2012-08-26

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Editorial Reviews

“The best genre fiction holds a mirror up to society while also providing edge-of-the-seat excitement, and The Last Policeman did that and more.”—Las Vegas City Life“...a heck of a lot of fun.”—Locus“Winters constructs a sturdy, functional, entertaining page-turner.”—Greg Cook,“I'm eager to read the other books, and expect that they’ll keep me as enthralled as the first one did.”—Mark Frauenfedler, Boing Boing   “...darkly intriguing...”—Discover magazine“Full of compelling twists, likable characters, and a sad beauty, The Last Policeman is a gem.”—San Francisco Book Review“...resonant and powerful.”—Locus“This is a book that asks big questions about civilization, community, desperation and hope.”—io9“ entertaining and well-plotted tale.”—'s GeekDad“I'm in the middle of it and can't put the dang thing down.”—USA Today's Pop Candy   “, funny, and deeply wise.”—“The Last Policeman succeeds both as a mystery, with a quirky detective and an intriguing whodunit, and as a piece of apocalyptic speculative fiction. That’s good news. The even better news is that this novel is supposed to be the first of a planned trilogy, with each case occurring closer to the moment when, as Henry repeatedly notes, ‘Bam!’ And that is something we can anticipate with a good feeling.”—Sacramento News & Review“Winters is masterful in crafting a plausible image of a society that’s hanging onto sanity by its fingernails as it teeters on the edge of mass hysteria....This is a novel that grabs ahold of you and doesn’t let you go until the very end.”—The Nashua Telegraph“If the next two books are as good as this one, I can't wait for the end of the world.”—Asbury Park Press“...a solidly plotted whodunit with strong characters and excellent dialogue...This memorable tale is the first of a planned trilogy.”—Booklist“This thought-provoking mystery should appeal to crime fiction aficionados who like an unusual setting and readers looking for a fresh take on apocalypse stories.”—Library Journal“Ben Winters vividly describes the decline of civilization in this pre-apocalyptic story, and spins a wonderful tale...This engrossing story is the first in a planned trilogy. It is a well-written mystery that will have readers eagerly awaiting the second installment.”—NY Journal of Books“The Last Policeman presents a fascinating portrait of a pre-apocalyptic United States.”—“Ben Winters makes noir mystery even darker: his latest novel sets a despondent detective on a suspicious suicide case—while an asteroid hurtles toward earth.”—Wired magazine“Normally, only Stephen King and Dean Koontz can suck me into a book and not release their stranglehold until I, exhausted from lack of sleep, have turned the last page. Now [Ben Winters] has joined their ranks...The Last Policeman is extraordinary—as well as brilliant, surprising, and, considering the circumstances, oddly uplifting.”—Mystery Scene magazine   “Absolutely outstanding, I completely loved it from start to finish and I’m already rueing the fact that there will only be two more in the series...this gets the highest recommendation I can give. Buy it.”—In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel“A promising kickoff to a planned trilogy. For Winters, the beauty is in the details rather than the plot’s grim main thrust.”—Kirkus Reviews, STARRED review