Countdown City (2013) – Ben H. Winters

 

The sequel to The Last Policeman picks up with less than three months before the big asteroid is to make its devastating impact on Earth. Hank Palace is no longer a police officer, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to stop being a detective. With his dog, Houdini at his side, Palace finds himself in a whole new mess as the pre-apocalypse continues.

Hired by the woman who used to baby-sit him as a child, Hank is investigating the disappearance of her husband, as she is convinced that he needs to be with her before the end.

But as he begins to investigate, with his sister helping him out, but with her own agenda at work as well, he learns that there is a lot more going on here than a husband going Bucket List.

As the world teeters closer and closer to destruction, Winters takes us on a journey that explores the way we look at our lives, and how we cope with the inevitable. While I enjoyed the first book, this one I loved, and flew through it incredibly quickly, now familiar with the characters, and the concepts at play in the world that the author has envisioned.

Hank is a driven character, he’s at his heart an investigator, and he can’t turn away from a mystery, even with looming destruction. He’s haunted by the loss of his lover from the previous book, and he needs to know how things play out.

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I loved the way this one ended, because while it is not necessarily a cliff-hanger, you can tell that Winters is setting to pay off in the final book, especially concerning the fate of Hank’s troubled sister Nico.

The plot twists and turns, and nothing ends up being as simple as you think it will be, but in the end, all the clues are actually there, and everything fits together in a perfectly crafted way, with just the mystery of Nico remaining unresolved before the end of the novel.

Told from the first person, the reader exists in Hank’s head, seeing and hearing everything he does, and as long as you are careful, you can pick up on each and every single one of the clues, I simply enjoyed the ride, and loved the surprises that Winters fired at me.

There are some fantastic sequences in this novel, the primary one, being the confrontation in the park, and the allegations about what some people are doing to stop the tide of refugees from landing on American shores.

This one is smart, not afraid to look at the darkness that seems to lurk in the human heart, but also the good that is there as well, personified by the person of Hank Palace.

I am quite looking forward to digging into the final book of the trilogy to see how everything wraps up before the world ends for the Last Policeman.

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