Saturday, March 7, 2015
In which the mystery book group considers what life might be like with The Last Policeman...
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.