The Last Policeman Series by Ben H. Winters

What's the point of solving murders if we're all going to die soon, anyway?

Detective Hank Palace has faced this question ever since asteroid 2011GV1 hovered into view. When it first appeared, 2011GV1 was just a speck, somewhere beyond Jupiter's orbit. By mid-October it revealed itself to be seven kilometers in diameter, and on a crash course with the Earth. By sometime next September, 2011GV1 will slam into our planet and kill half the population immediately, and most of the rest in the miserable decades that follow.

Most people have stopped doing whatever it is they did before the chances of impact rose to 100%. Stopped selling real estate; stopped working at hospitals; stopped slinging hash or driving cabs or trading high-yield securities. A lot of folks spend their days on bended knee, praying to Jesus or Allah or whoever they think might save them. Others have gone the other way, roaming the streets, enjoying what pleasures they can before the grand finale. Government services are beginning to slip into disarray, crops are left to rot. Even Hank Palace's police department in Concord, NH is crumbling at the foundation.

But problems don't stop just because the world does.

All of humanity now, every person in the world--we're like a bunch of little kids, in deep, deep trouble, just waiting till our dad gets home. So what do I do while I wait? I work.

The Edgar-award-winning Last Policeman trilogy presents a fascinating portrait of a pre-apocalyptic United States. People all over the world are walking off the job—but not Hank Palace. A suicide, a missing person, a doomsday cult that's pulled Hank's sister away from him: these days, no case is open-and-shut. As the world grinds to a halt around him, Hank Palace must face questions that go 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?

Detective Hank Palace returns in Countdown City, the second volume of theLast Policeman trilogy. There are just 77 days before a deadly asteroid collides with Earth, and Detective 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 justgone. 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.

Countdown City presents another 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?
 

The 2013 Edgar® Award Winner for Best Paperback Original!

What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die? Detective Hank Palace has asked this question ever since asteroid 2011GV1 hovered into view. Several kilometers wide, it’s on a collision course with planet Earth, with just six precious months until impact.

The Last Policeman presents a fascinating portrait of a pre-apocalyptic United States. Industry is grinding to a halt. Most people have abandoned their jobs. But not Hank Palace. As our story opens, he’s investigating the latest suicide in a city that’s full of suicides—only this one feels wrong. This one feels like homicide. And Palace is the only one who cares. What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die?

The Last Policeman offers a story we’ve never read before: A police procedural set on the brink of an apocalypse. What would any of us do, what would we really do, if our days were numbered?

WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

At the heart of The Last Policeman is Detective Hank Palace's determination to do his job, and do it well, even though the world is on the brink of destruction.

The other characters keep asking him why -- why do you care so much? What does it matter? Hank never exactly articulates an answer (it's his nature to do, not to question the doing), but his motivation is somewhere between "it's the right thing to do" and "what the hell else am I supposed to do?"

Not surprisingly, many people in the world of The Last Policeman see it differently. In the face of doom, people are re-imagining their lives, or ending their lives—there have been so many suicides in Palace's hometown of Concord, NH that people call it "Hanger Town."

So "what would you do?" is the Big Question, the thematic concern that underlies the whole book. It's an easy and fun thing to talk about in a jokey way: crossing things off the bucket list, having crazy sex, smoking tons of cigarettes and doing tons of drugs!

But imagine that it were real... that the days were really counting down... what would you really do? in 2012, we had readers share what they would do at the end of the world, in essays, short stories, and poetry. You can check them out here.