If you have been reading The Last Policeman trilogy by Ben H. Winters and you have reached the final book, World of Trouble, as I have, you have to be wondering how this tale will end. Will we be visiting Henry Palace in future cases as this born policeman doggedly investigates those who harm others, or will Henry Palace and the entire planet earth be turned to fire and ash when Maia, the asteroid collides with earth on October 3rd?
October is almost upon the people living in “The Police House” in the mountains in New Hampshire where Henry is currently living. (I guess it isn’t such a good idea to be reading this book in September.) His colleague from the Concord Police Department, Officer McConnell promised Henry that she would take him to the house she and some of her police friends had prepared. They had stocked this very isolated and self-sufficient farm with supplies to allow them to perhaps survive after the collision, if anything could survive. Since the asteroid would hit in Indonesia, on the other side of the planet, there were long odds that some might make it through.
When Terry McConnell and her two children leave Concord she was true to her word. She picked up Henry Palace just as he wrapped up the unusual case of the disappearance of his childhood babysitter’s husband, which was nowhere near as simple to unravel as we would have thought it might be. Henry’s investigation pulled a handful of seemingly unrelated strings that gave us a fairly complete picture of what earth was like as that asteroid hurtled towards it from behind the sun.
Henry has it great at The Police House, but he just cannot settle in. One case is still unsolved. He has to find his sister, Nico. They lost both of their parents when she was so small and even though she always seems so capable Henry has spent most of his short life keeping track of her. Nico was involved in a plan to find a jailed physicist who could set off nuclear explosions near the asteroid which would push it out of the collision course it was on. Henry was never sure if he believed this plan had merit or indeed if it was even real, but his sister had once laid her hands on a military helicopter which seemed to be a piece of evidence in favor of his sister’s claims.
So Henry and his dog Houdini say good-bye to the good people at The Police House and they set out on the road back to Concord to pick up his sister’s trail. He is taking notes as he goes in the last blue exam book left from his father’s stash. He travels through New England into the mid-Atlantic states to Rotary, Ohio one week before THE day and we experience with him, as he goes, a population that has splintered into family groups, nuclear and otherwise and hunkered down to wait for impact.
We are like Henry Palace. We must see this through to the end. How will the author leave us? How will we feel when whatever happens happens? We travel half in hope, half in despair, much the way we travel through our actual lives without the impending impact of a giant asteroid. Would we all behave much as Ben Winters suggests? Let’s hope we never find out. I’m not sure how he made a fairly wacky situation seem so real and engrossing. That is the magic of good writing.
By Nancy Brisson
<a href=https://plus.google.com/10640005355488737390?=author>Nancy Brisson</a>