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Saturday, March 7, 2015

In which the mystery book group considers what life might be like with The Last Policeman...

My mystery book group met on Wednesday evening and we all blew in to our branch library meeting room on the cold, cold wind.  OK, I know that cold to us is laughable for many of you.  But...geez, Louise, we don't like a whole lot of cold here.  It's why we live here and not in the other parts of our great nation.  And late February and early March have about gotten on our last nerve.  We admit it.  We are weather wimps.  It's March.  Bring on the bluebonnets (our lovely state flower that blooms in late March/April).

Our discussion book for this meeting - The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters.  And this was also a "bring a little potluck to share" meeting, so we filled our plates with delectables, including a kind of carrot ice cream/sorbet, which was excellent by the way, and settled in to talk books.

So, what have you heard about Ben Winters' trilogy of books that begins with The Last Policeman?  I knew that it was a sort of cross-genre story - a pre-apocalyptic US thrown in with the tale of Detective Hank Palace of the Concord, New Hampshire Police.  An asteroid is hurtling toward the earth.  It will hit in 6 months.  Life will cease to exist or certainly never be the same.  What would you do?  Are the police even still necessary?  Who cares about one man who is found dead in a situation that strongly suggests suicide?  Who cares?  Hank Palace cares.  Regardless of future events, life is precious and murder is not to be tolerated.

The Last Policeman won the Edgar award for Best Paperback Original for 2013.  This is actually a trilogy starting with this book and including Countdown City and World of Trouble.  We had a great time discussing it.  The consensus was that almost everyone liked the book.  Some had been a little skeptical that Winters could take a story about the world's end and make us care about crime solving as well.  Our opinion was that this author managed that task quite handily.  Only one of the group had read on in the trilogy at this point and so she was quizzed pretty thoroughly about what might be coming.  I must say, she did a good job not revealing any spoilers, while trying to answer the queries.

We spent quite a bit of time sharing, "What if?", which I think everyone had considered.  What would you do?  Would you quit your job and spend all your money and travel?  Would you become a hoarder and survivalist and hunker down, hoping to stay alive by some manner?  Would you go ahead and end your life now?  The book suggest many possibilities.  Some do indeed commit suicide.  New Orleans becomes a sort of Sin City, where anything goes.  Some turn to religion for themselves and also try to convince others to repent and pray.  Some think the government is hiding information and conspiracy theories abound.  And some think that this is just the time they might be able solve a few problems for themselves, by committing murder.  

The mystery itself was intriguing enough and there were several plot strands that were left unanswered, presumably for the next book.  We talked about Henry (Hank) Palace and what we learned of his life and family.  Some questioned the science and the specifics included about the asteroid.  I said that I kept waiting for Bruce Willis to show up and drill a hole to blow up Maya (as the asteroid was named).  All in all, a good read for us, although as often happens when we all agree, we sort of ran out of discussion topics.  I think most of us will continue on in the trilogy.

Next month is Greg Iles Month.  We'll be talking about Natchez Burning and other books by that author.        

24 comments:

  1. I enjoyed the entire trilogy, Kay.

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    1. Good to know, Cathy. That bodes well for my enjoyment.

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  2. This trilogy is so good; in terms of plots and characterisations! Henry is a great hero IMO. :)

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    1. I really like Henry too. He seems to try to do the right thing, even when everyone else is not.

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    1. The first book really was, Sheila!

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  4. I really must start this series. I don't read reviews of the books in detail, but I've not seen a negative opinion. My initial response to the first one was that I wouldn't like it, but having seen how many people have found it fascinating, must admit my error.

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    1. Jenclair, your initial thoughts were the same as some in our group. They were pleasantly surprised. We only had one member who truly did not like it. And it wasn't the asteroid that she objected to.

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  5. I admit that I just peeked at your thoughts on this one as I haven't yet read it myself. I want to though! I have seen so many people praising it that I really need to finally give it a try. I'm glad to hear that your book group enjoyed it!!

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    1. It's different, but I was pleased with it. Hope you are too!

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  6. It's just a topic that doesn't interest me. End of world, apocalypse, alternate realities, zombies. Just can't get into any of them. If I heard this was going to happen, I'd just go along as normal, assuming it wasn't really going to happen but if it did, I couldn't do anything about it anyway. :<)

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    1. And that is pretty much what the detective in the book does. Continues to do his job. With all the chaos around him. :-)

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  7. I've wondered about this book - wasn't sure if I'd enjoy the pre-apocalyptic part. I didn't know it was a trilogy!

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    1. Yep. And now I'm going to have to read the other books to see how the story continues and how it ends.

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  8. Like Nan, I don't really like post-appocalyptic novels. Wonder how the pre-appocalyptic angle would strike me.... sounds interesting.

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    1. It's a part of it, JoAnn, but not overwhelming with statistics or long narrative about it. A few things are mentioned, like the internet or cell phones not working well. A lot of the book is the detective's investigation.

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  9. Okay, you sold me. Off to request it from the library.

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  10. I think the trilogy is a lot of fun, and really great for a book club. There are good questions to discuss about the end of the world, and how someone like Hank is trying to cope with the unthinkable. I thought the author did a great job making the mystery feel significant, even in the face of the end of the world. You get why it matters to Hank.

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    1. Exactly. You summed it up very well, Kim.

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  11. I can see why this book and the rest of the trilogy would make for a great book group pick. I hadn't really known what to expect when I began reading The Last Policeman. It was different than I thought it would be, but in a good way. I really enjoyed it (as you know).

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    1. Yes, now I just need to get the last two books read. I may listen to them like I did with THE LAST POLICEMAN.

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  12. My interest is piqued! Putting it on my audio wishlist! :)

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    1. It was good. You might try it. I need to get #2 and #3 read to finish out the story.

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Thanks for stopping by! I am so happy to hear your thoughts and will respond as soon as I can. Happy Reading!