Crime Fiction; 316 pgs
Opening Sentence ~ "It's just that he
promised," says Martha Milano, pale eyes flashing, cheeks flushed with anxiety.
I am still in love with Hank Palace. In the second installment of the trilogy, we find Hank out of a job. Despite his reluctance to take on the case, Hank gives in to his former babysitter's request to find her missing husband. Like so many others since news of the asteroid's coming, it is most likely her husband is off to fill some bucket list request or perhaps he met another woman. Or committed suicide.
Hank sets out to find the missing husband, just the same, hitting the streets in a time when computers and cell phones are almost obsolete. His investigation takes him into dark and desperate places, where he meets people from all walks of life, each doing what they can to survive.
In Countdown City
, the reader sees the continuation of civilization falling to pieces under threat of destruction. Winters, again here, does an amazing job of capturing an array of responses to such a situation, his characters raw and desperate, good and bad.
Hank continues to be a rock, persistent in his task, almost single minded in his goal to find the husband. He nearly always takes the higher moral ground, which is another reason I admire him. He's trying to hang on to decency and responsibility. Something that seems to be deteriorating rapidly around him.
During his investigation, always taking detailed notes, Hank enlists the help of his estranged sister, Nico who is more than willing to give her brother a hand. She has her own agenda, of course, and Hank doesn't like it at all. It is clear the two love each other, and Hank wants so much for his sister to be safe. She has always been a free spirit, and Hank knows he cannot control or contain her.
Can I just say poor Hank? He goes through so much in Countdown City
. He went through a lot in The Last Policeman
too. But, really. Ouch!
was just as good The Last Policeman
. Even those who do not generally read pre-apocalyptic books but who like mysteries might enjoy this trilogy.
World of Trouble by Ben H. Winters
Quirk Books, 2014
Crime Fiction; 319 pgs
Opening Sentence ~ "Are you here about the dust?"
Will the asteroid hit? How will Hank fare? What about his dog, Houdini? These were just some of the questions that went through my mind as I started reading World of Trouble
, the third book in The Last Policeman Trilogy
. With less than two weeks until the asteroid is supposed to hit, we find Hank in Ohio, making camp in a police station where he believes his sister once stayed. It has been awhile since he last saw her, and he is determined to find her, to make amends, and to spend his last days with her. Coming along with him is a former thief, Cortez, who is both cunning and violent. Cortez is a resourceful man to have around in the end times, but, like Hank, I wasn't sure I could trust him.
From the Publisher:
There are just 14 days until a deadly asteroid hits the planet, and America has fallen into chaos. Citizens have barricaded themselves inside basements, emergency shelters, and big-box retail stores. Cash is worthless; bottled water is valuable beyond measure. All over the world, everyone is bracing for the end.
But Detective Hank Palace still has one last case to solve. His beloved sister Nico was last seen in the company of suspicious radicals, armed with heavy artillery and a plan to save humanity. Hank's search for Nico takes him from Massachusetts to Ohio, from abandoned zoos and fast food restaurants to a deserted police station where he uncovers evidence of a brutal crime. With time running out, Hank follows the clues to a series of earth-shattering revelations.
Down to his last page of his notebook, himself hanging by a thread, Hank will do anything to find his sister. He is met with hostility and violence as well as kindness along his journey. No matter what, he will
get the answers he needs. He has to. Hank changes over the course of the novel, however, he never loses his sense of decency and need to do the right thing. He grows harder and more resourceful. He takes more risks.
In World of Trouble
, the end is near and the desperateness and fear are even more at the forefront than they were in previous books. Even Hank is feeling it, despite his manic persistence in finding out what's happened to his sister. It is sad to say how true to reality I imagine some of what Winters' writes about in his book would be if we really were facing the end the world. The chaos and violence, the selfishness and greed. And yet there is also the softer side--how people are willing to help each other. The trilogy offers an interesting case study on human behavior.
The ending. Just that. I have nothing else to say about it. At least not without spoiling anything.
I liked each book in the trilogy equally, but for different reasons. This one hit me harder emotionally. Maybe because of the heightened tension, but I think that is only part of it. It was more about the personal nature of Hank's investigation, the search for his sister and everything that follows. There is one scene in the book in which an entire family is sitting on the roof of their house, together, waiting to see if the asteroid will hit. I think that would be me and my family. Or perhaps my husband would convince me to wait it out in a bunker, hoping for the best.
While I think a reader can jump in at any point and read a satisfactory mystery (and the author does a good job setting up each book, including the necessary back story in the later books), I truly feel this is a series best read in order. The overreaching themes and story line are an important part of what makes this trilogy as good as it is. I think readers trying to read the books as stand alones will miss out on the greater experience.
Rating: (Very Good +)
Source: I received copies of all three books from the publisher for my honest review. I also purchased e-copies of the book with my own money.