Friday, August 24, 2012
Review of The Last Policeman by Ben Winters (Quirk, 2012)
The tag-line for The Last Policeman is ‘what’s the point of solving murders if we’re all going to die soon, anyway?’ It brings an interesting twist to the story, providing an unusual framing. Otherwise, this is a straight up-and-down police procedural where Palace uses his skills and wits to piece together and solve a mystery puzzle. The construction of the story is well done, with Palace being misdirected or led down dead-ends, slowly working out the reason for the death. The characterisation is a little thin especially beyond Palace, suffering I think from the first person narrative, but it’s made up for in the plot and premise. There was also more scope to explore the nature of a pre-apocalyptic society and elaborate some philosophical musings on the meaning of life and the human condition. However, the premise is used much more as context, rather than as foil. That’s fine, but I felt it was a missed opportunity. Overall, an enjoyable, well written police procedural with a nice contextual twist.