Tag Archives: Ben H. Winters

World of Trouble, The Last Policeman, Book III by Ben H. Winters – Book


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>

Countdown City, Book II, The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters – Book


In Countdown City, Book II of The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters Henry Palace is no longer a police detective or even, in fact, a policeman at all. For a while the police who were not detectives kept order in Concord, New Hampshire. As it gets closer and closer to the date of the impact of Maia, the asteroid, 6.5 kilometers in diameter, with the earth the police disappear from the street corners and civilization moves down another notch towards anarchy.

People have already been informed that Maia will hit in Indonesia. Boatloads of people from the target area are arriving at American shores daily and, although there is no visible central government in America somehow the “refugees” fleeing the impact zone are being kept out of the American interior. There are stories of internment camps.

Henry meets his fellow detectives daily at the diner where Ruth Ann, their favorite waitress, takes their orders as usual, although pretty much all she can serve them is tea (sadly coffee is unavailable). Henry Palace may have been released by the Concord Police Department but he cannot stop being a policeman. He even has a new case much to the amusement of his fellow retired detectives.

It’s personal. Martha Milano has lost her husband. She is now Martha Cavatone and her husband, Brett, age 33, is missing. She wants him back. She was Henry’s babysitter for a time and he likes her. He promises to try to find her husband, even though almost all people in America are now missing persons, and he knows where to begin – at Rocky’s Rock ‘n’ Bowl where Martha’s dad still serves something that is as close to pizza as he can make it and offers up the old bowling allies for sharpshooter practice. Everyone in America has guns and plans to use them if necessary. When Henry asks what to do if Brett won’t come home Martha says “Tell him his salvation depends on it.”

Henry Palace has a sister. He and his sister lost their mother when they were young. She was in an accident. His dad, the professor, who left behind the blue books that Henry uses for notes in his investigations, died shortly after his wife so Henry and his younger sister were raised somewhat haphazardly by their grandfather. Nico, Henry’s sister never followed rules. In school she went her own way, whether she got in trouble or not. As an adult she still has that revolutionary spirit. She flits in and out of Henry’s life hinting at a mission that could save earth from that collision with Maia. Henry is feeling like he hasn’t seen his sister for a while and he needs to see her. To Henry she is another missing person.

As far as Henry is concerned the rule of law has broken down so far that even if Nico is not just a mad dreamer, even if she and her mysterious cohorts can actually move the asteroid with a near-asteroid explosion, law and order, civilization as we know it, cannot be put back together again.  Henry also realizes that if the asteroid does collide with earth we will lose more than law and order: he realizes that all living things will die. However he would still like to see his sister.

If you tag along with Henry and his little dog Houdini, the Bichon frizé he rescued from the drug dealer in Book I, you won’t be disappointed. You will be amazed at what Henry will do to get answers and how very dedicated he is to being a great policeman, even if he is the last. The second book is even better than the first and the ending has some surprises in store. I have already dived into Book III.

I recommend that you don’t start Book II until you know you have access to Book III or you will feel the way Henry feels when he can no longer get coffee. These books are not densely literary but they are very enjoyable and as we try to get through recent days when apocalypse does not seem impossible these books do make you speculate about what life would be like in America if we had to contend with anarchy.

By Nancy Brisson

<a href=https://plus.google.com/10640005355488737390?=author>Nancy Brisson</a>

The Last Policeman, Book I by Ben H. Winters – Book

The Last Policeman


“Perfect.” That’s the word I heard in my brain when I first saw that Ben H. Winters’ new novel, the last one in a trilogy, called The Last Policeman had been published. I made a decision to begin with Book One because I love science-fiction and I love detective stories and, of course, it is necessary to begin at the beginning. This series of books sounded right up my alley. And, so far, it is.

It’s fairly bare bones writing but it gets the job done, in fact the author’s style suits the plot. Winters is writing about an American society that is disintegrating because, this time, the asteroid headed our way will actually hit earth. People even know the date the planet and asteroid will collide, but not the location on earth where it will make contact. It’s a big asteroid. Probably not big enough to obliterate earth, but perhaps big enough to obliterate man.

What would you do if you knew you had an appointment with a cosmic accident that would change everything, but this appointment was several months in the future? Would you change your life, give up you day job; or would you just keep working? Many people would probably have to keep their jobs. These people live paycheck to paycheck already. So people like this would live in fear of the asteroid, but also in fear that their employer will close the doors of the business where they work and where will they be then? However, lots of employers have enough money to make an end-of-life plan, to change things up, and sometimes, because the world is changing so fast, many businesses no longer have customers so businesses are closing.

Henry Palace is a policeman, has always wanted to be a policeman and he just made detective not long ago. The police force is basically a mess, with policemen having all the life crises that other people are facing all over the globe. But Henry is steadfast. He is a policeman. He is not suicidal. He is doing exactly what he loves to do and he sees no reason to change, although everyone around him finds him sort of ridiculous.

For some reason when Henry finds alleged hanger (someone who commits suicide by hanging) Peter Zell in a McDonald’s bathroom, hanging from an upscale leather belt, against all logic (according to everyone else) Henry decides that Peter Zell is a victim of a murder.

With the asteroid looming larger and larger in people’s psyches (if not yet within their view) Henry Palace sets his tall lanky self off on an investigation which receives more pushback than anyone would encounter in more normal circumstances. Henry takes a lot of punishment as he researches this incident which only he (and perhaps one other person) believes is a murder.

The Last Policeman was a great combo for me – sci-fi and murder mystery – and I accept Henry Palace as a detective and as a well-drawn character. This works and I can’t wait to see if it continues to work in the next two books.

By Nancy Brisson

<a href=https://plus.google.com/10640005355488737390?=author>Nancy Brisson</a>