Countdown City (The Last Policeman, Book II) by Ben H. Winters #RRSciFiMonth

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'Til the asteroid do us part.

Synopsis: There are just 74 days to go before a deadly asteroid collides with Earth, and Detective Hank Palace is out of a job. With the Concord police force operating under the auspices of the U.S. Justice Department, Hank's days of solving crimes are over...until a woman from his past begs for help finding her missing husband.

Brett Cavatone disappeared without a trace—an easy feat in a world with no phones, no cars, and no way to tell whether someone’s gone “bucket list” or just gone. With society falling to shambles, Hank pieces together what few clues he can, on a search that leads him from a college-campus-turned-anarchist-encampment to a crumbling coastal landscape where anti-immigrant militia fend off “impact zone” refugees.  The second novel in the critically acclaimed Last Policeman trilogy, Countdown City presents a fascinating mystery set on brink of an apocalypse--and once again, Hank Palace confronts questions way beyond "whodunit." What do we as human beings owe to one another? And what does it mean to be civilized when civilization is collapsing all around you?

My two cents

Check out 
my review of The Last Policeman
Last year, I really enjoyed The Last Policeman, which is the first book in this sci-fi trilogy, so naturally I needed to find out what happens in book 2. Naturally, I was also apprehensive about this sequel living up to its predecessor, but I shouldn't have worried because I thought this was a fantastic read!

This book picks up where the first book left off ... the world is still on the brink of destruction with an asteroid about to hit earth (74 days left!) ... and Hank is still a policeman at heart. Despite Hank no longer officially with the police force, he simply couldn't say no to Martha, his former babysitter (which he had a huge crush on), as she begs him to find her missing husband. It's a hopeless case with people disappearing for mysterious reasons of their own. But Martha is certain, without a shred of doubt, that her husband, Brett, would never leave her.

The promise to help distraught Martha sends Hank out into an increasingly chaotic world, following through on any leads -- many of which are dangerous -- all the while slowly piecing together the true character of Brett Cavatone.


I loved the premise of the first book which so effectively set up this pre-apocalyptic world, that this second book really just ran with it! The world as characterized, and particularly the psychology of people were totally believable. I think we all have a morbid fascination with doomsday situations. I totally bought the horrendous scenarios being played out including mass suicides and missing people (usually "Bucket Listers"), widespread food shortages and a proliferating black market, military fending off people in a mass exodus to areas already with severe food shortages, and underground colonies of extremists who believe that there is still salvation in sight. All of these steadily percolate as we follow along in Hank's investigations.

Which brings me to a point that really appealed to me. There is an honest-to-goodness sweetness and even traditionalism to the storyline: Hank, who is still living out his dream of being a policeman, Martha who is clinging on to her disappeared husband's promise, and the charismatic Brett Cavatone whose mysterious disappearance raises all sorts of questions in my mind. These three highlight the bittersweetness of life in their now short existence.

That this was also part mystery also left me hankering to read through and its fast pace and the multi-layered revelations didn't disappoint. I have high expectations for the third book and wonder what Winters will do to wrap up this sci-fi trilogy!

Uh-oh: I am still a little iffy about Hank Palace as the central character; I didn't especially feel his growth as a person and his naivete struck me as a little off in the whole scheme of things. Let's just say that I am still not entirely convinced with his good-naturedness; I think I wanted him grittier or just with a shade of darkness to his soul.

Verdict: A great second installment to a trilogy about a chaotic world on the verge of decimation. If you've read The Last Policeman, you shouldn't miss this one! If you are new to the series, I highly recommend you read both books ... and I'm pretty sure you'll be eagerly awaiting the third, just like I am!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thanks, Quirk Books!


1 comment

  1. I remember being really intrigued by reviews of The Last Policeman when that came out - can't believe the second installment is available to read already and I haven't managed to get started on the first! The curse of the too-big TBR...must get around to reading these sooner rather than later!


© guiltless readingMaira Gall