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World of Trouble: The Last Policeman Book III

World of Trouble: The Last Policeman Book III

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World of Trouble: The Last Policeman Book III

4/5 (275 valutazioni)
286 pagine
Jul 15, 2014


“A genre-defying blend of crime writing and science fiction.”—Alexandra Alter, The New York Times

Nominated for the 2015 Edgar® Award for Best Paperback Original

Critically acclaimed author Ben H. Winters delivers this explosive final installment in the Edgar® Award winning Last Policeman series.

With the doomsday asteroid looming, Detective Hank Palace has found sanctuary in the woods of New England, secure in a well-stocked safe house with other onetime members of the Concord police force. But with time ticking away before the asteroid makes landfall, Hank’s safety is only relative, and his only relative—his sister Nico—isn’t safe. Soon, it’s clear that there’s more than one earth-shattering revelation on the horizon, and it’s up to Hank to solve the puzzle before time runs out...for everyone.
Jul 15, 2014

Informazioni sull'autore

Ben H. Winters is an author and educator who has written plays and musicals for children and adults, as well as several books in the bestselling Worst-Case Scenario Survival Guide series. He is also the author of The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman, Bedbugs, and the parody novels Android Karenina and the bestselling Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. He lives in Indianapolis.

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World of Trouble - Ben H. Winters


The Last Policeman

Winner of the Edgar Award

[The] plotting is sure-footed and surprising.… Ben H. Winters reveals himself as a novelist with an eye for the well-drawn detail.


"Ben H. Winters makes noir mystery even darker: The Last Policeman sets a despondent detective on a suspicious suicide case—while an asteroid hurtles toward earth."


"I love this book. I stayed up until seven in the morning reading because I could not stop. Full of compelling twists, likable characters, and a sad beauty, The Last Policeman is a gem. It’s the first in a trilogy, and I am already excited for book two."

—Audrey Curtis, San Francisco Book Review

I’m eager to read the other books, and expect that they’ll keep me as enthralled as the first one did.

—Mark Frauenfelder, Boing Boing

"I haven’t had to defend my love for science fiction in quite a while, but when I do, I point to books like The Last Policeman. [It] explores human emotions and relationships through situations that would be impossible (or worse yet, metaphorical) in literary fiction. This is a book that asks big questions about civilization, community, desperation and hope. But it doesn’t provide big, pat answers."

—Michael Ann Dobbs, io9

I’ve rarely been more surprised by a mystery novel than I was by this one—it’s an unlikely cross-genre mashup that coheres for two reasons: the glum, relentless, and implausibly charming detective Hank Palace; and, most importantly, Ben H. Winters’s clean, clever, thoughtful, and gently comic prose.

—J. Robert Lennon

A solidly plotted whodunit with strong characters and excellent dialogue … the impending apocalypse isn’t merely window dressing, either: it’s a key piece of the puzzle Hank is trying to solve.


This thought-provoking mystery should appeal to crime fiction aficionados who like an unusual setting and readers looking for a fresh take on apocalypse stories.

Library Journal

A promising kickoff to a planned trilogy. For Winters, the beauty is in the details rather than the plot’s grim main thrust.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Ben H. Winters spins a wonderful tale while creating unique characters that fit in perfectly with the ever-changing societal pressures.… [This] well-written mystery will have readers eagerly awaiting the second installment.

The New York Journal of Books

Extraordinary—as well as brilliant, surprising, and, considering the circumstances, oddly uplifting.

Mystery Scene Magazine

Exhilarating.… Do not wait for the movie!

E! Online


Countdown City:

The Last Policeman Book II

Winner of the Philip K. Dick Award

Winters is a deft storyteller who moves his novel effortlessly from its intriguing setup to a thrilling, shattering conclusion.

Los Angeles Review of Books

As with the first Hank Palace novel (this is volume 2 of a trilogy), the mystery element is strong, and the strange, pre-apocalyptic world is highly imaginative and also very plausible—it’s easy to think that the impending end of the world might feel very much like this. Genre mash-up master Winters is at it again.


I always appreciate novels that have new and interesting approaches to traditional genres, and Ben H. Winters’ two novels featuring Hank Palace fill the bill.

—Nancy Pearl, NPR’s Guide to 2013’s Best Reads

Through it all Palace remains a likeable hero for end times, and … readers are left to wonder how he’ll survive to tell his final tale.

Publishers Weekly

The Last Policeman Trilogy

The Last Policeman

Countdown City

World of Trouble

Also by Ben H. Winters

Underground Airlines

Golden State

Copyright © 2014 by Ben H. Winters

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher.

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Number: 2014903377

eISBN: 978-1-59474-686-4

Designed by Gregg Kulick based on a design by Doogie Horner

Cover photographs: (man) © Ibai Acevedo/​Moment Select/​Getty Images; (meteor) © Ian McKinnell/​Photographer’s Choice/​Getty Images; (building) © Hillary Fox/​E+/​Getty Images; (dog) © ideeone/​E+/​Getty Images

Cover photos by Vadim Sadovski/​, PlusONE/​, and Phaustov/​

Production management by John J. McGurk

Quirk Books

215 Church Street

Philadelphia, PA 19106


For Diana

"… I’m gonna love you

till the wheels come off

oh, oh yeah …"

"And I won’t let go and I can’t let go

I won’t let go and I can’t let go

I won’t let go and I can’t let go no more"

—Bob Dylan, Solid Rock



Also by Ben H. Winter

Title Page




Wednesday, August 22

Part One - American Spirit

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Wednesday, August 22

Part Two - Blue Town Man

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Part Three - Joy

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Part Four - Go On and Get to Work

Wednesday, August 22

Part Five - Isis

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Part Six - Plan B

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Epilogue: Wednesday, October 3


About the Author

Are you here about the dust? Please tell me you’re here to do something about the dust.

I don’t answer. I don’t know what to say.

The girl’s voice is throaty and ill, her eyes looking out over a nose-and-mouth mask, staring hopeful and crazed at me as I stand baffled on her doorstep. Beautiful blonde, hair swept back out of her face, dirty and exhausted like everybody, panicked like everybody. But there’s something else going on here, something not healthy. Something biochemical in her eyes.

Well, come in, she says through her allergy mask. Come on, come in, close the door, the door.

I step inside and she kicks the door shut and whirls around to face me. Yellow sundress, faded and tattered at the hem. Starved-looking, sallow, pale. Wearing not just the allergy mask but thick yellow latex gloves. And she’s armed to the teeth is the other thing, she’s holding two semiautomatics and has a smaller gun tucked in her boot, plus some kind of heavy-duty hunting knife in a calf sheath at the hem of the sundress. And I can’t tell if it’s live or not, but there is unquestionably a grenade dangling from a braided belt at her waist.

"Do you see the dust? she says, gesturing with the guns, pointing into the corners. You see how we’ve got a serious problem with the dust?"

It’s true that there are motes hovering in the sunbeams, along with the garbage scattered on the floor, heaps of dirty clothing and open trunks spilling over with all manner of useless things, magazines and electrical cords and wadded-up dollar bills. But she’s seeing more than what’s here, I can tell, she’s in the outer reaches, she’s blinking furiously, coughing behind her mask.

I wish I could recall this girl’s name. That would help a lot, if I could just remember her name.

What do we do about this? she says, rattling out words. Do you just vacuum it, or—? Is that it—do you just suck it up and take it out of here? Does that work with cosmic dust?

Cosmic dust, I say. Huh. Well, you know, I’m not sure.

This is my first trip to Concord, New Hampshire, since I fled a month ago, since my house burned down, along with much of the rest of the city. The chaos of those final frantic hours has died down to a grim and mournful silence. We’re a few blocks from downtown, in the abandoned husk of a store on Wilson Street, but there are no jostling anxious crowds outside, no frightened people rushing and pushing past each other in the streets. No klaxon howl of car alarms, no distant gunfire. The people are hidden now, those that remain, hidden under blankets or in basements, encased in their dread.

And the girl, disintegrating, raving about imaginary dust from outer space. We’ve met once before, right here at this same small shop, which was once a used-clothing store called Next Time Around. She wasn’t like this then, hadn’t fallen prey to it. Other people are sick in the same way, of course, to varying degrees, different kinds of symptomatology; if the DSM-IV were still being updated and applied, this new illness would be added in red. A debilitating obsession with the gigantic asteroid on a collision course with our fragile planet. Astromania, perhaps. Delusional interstellar psychosis.

I feel like if I could only call her by her name, remind her that we have a relationship, that we’re both human beings, it would ease her unsettled mind and make me less of a threat. Then we could talk calmly.

It’s toxic, you know, she’s saying. Really, really bad. The cosmic dust is real, real bad on your lungs. The photons burn your lungs.

Listen, I say, and she makes a panicked gasp and rushes toward me, her assorted armaments jangling.

"Keep your tongue in your mouth, she hisses. Don’t taste it."

Okay. I’ll try. I won’t.

I keep my hands at my sides, where she can see them, keep my expression neutral, soft as cake. I’m actually here for some information.

Information? Her brows knit with confusion. She peers at me through clouds of invisible dust.

It’s not her I’m here to talk to, anyway; it’s her friend I need. Boyfriend, maybe. Whatever he is. That’s the guy who knows where I need to go next. I hope he does, anyway. I’m counting on it.

I need to speak to Jordan. Is Jordan here?

Suddenly the girl finds focus, snaps to attention, and the pistols come up. Did he—did he send you?

No. I raise my hands. No.

Oh my God, he sent you. Are you with him? Is he in space? She’s shouting, advancing across the room, the barrels of the semiautomatics aimed at my face like twin black holes. Is he doing this?

I turn my head to the wall, scared to die, even now, even today.

Is he doing this to me?

And then—somehow—miraculously—the name.


Her eyes soften, widen slightly.

Abigail, I say. Can I help you? Can we help each other?

She gapes at me. Heavy silence. Moments flying past, time burning away.

"Abigail, please."


I’m worried about my dog.

He’s limping now, on top of everything else, on top of the dry cough that rattles his small frame as he breathes, on top of the nasty burrs that have tangled themselves irretrievably in his matted fur. I don’t know where or how he picked it up, this deep limp in his right forepaw, but here he comes now, moving slow out of the evidence room behind me, slipping through my legs and slouching with a pronounced foot-drag down the hallway. He shuffles away, poor little guy, nosing along the baseboard, his coat smudged but still white.

I watch him with deep unease. It wasn’t fair of me to take Houdini along. A mistake I made without even thinking about it, inflicting upon my dog the rigors of a long and uncertain journey, the unhygienic drinking water and sparse food, the hikes along deserted highway shoulders and through fallow fields, the fights with other animals. I should have left him with McConnell and the others, back at the safe house in Massachusetts, left him with McConnell’s kids, all the other kids, the other dogs, a safe and comfortable environment. But I took him. I never asked him if he wanted to come, not that a dog in any case could fairly weigh the risks and rewards.

I took him, and we crossed eight hundred fifty complicated miles in five long weeks, and the wear is showing on the dog, no doubt about it.

I’m really sorry, pal, I whisper, and the dog coughs. I pause in the hallway, breathing in the darkness, staring up at the ceiling.

It was the same in the evidence room as in the rest of the place: thick coatings of dust on the shelves, filing cabinets turned over and emptied out. Odors of must and mildew. In Dispatch, on someone’s desk between the blank laptops and the old foot-switch RadioCOMMAND console, there was an ancient sandwich, half eaten and crawling with ants. Nothing good, nothing helpful or hopeful.

We arrived very late last night and began our search immediately, and now it’s three hours later and the sun is beginning to rise—dull pale beams filtering in through the glass-paned front door, down at the east end of the hall—and we’ve worked through most of the building and nothing. Nothing. A small police station, like the one in Concord, New Hampshire, where I used to work. Even smaller. All night I’ve gone through on my hands and knees with my magnifying glass and fat Eveready flashlight, taking the place room by room: Reception, Dispatch. Administration, Holding Cell, Evidence.

Cold certainty slowly filling me, like dirty water rising in a well: there’s nothing.

Officer McConnell knew it. She told me this was a fool’s errand. So you have, what, the name of a town? is what she said.

A building, I said. The police station. In a town. In Ohio.

Ohio? Skeptical. Arms crossed. Scowling. Well, you won’t find her. Also, if you do? So what?

I remember what it felt like, her being angry, justified in her anger. I just nodded. I kept packing.

Now, in the flat dawn light of the empty hallway of the empty police station, I make a fist with my right hand and raise it to a forty-five-degree angle and bring it down like the hammer of a gun, slam it backward into the wall I’m leaning against. Houdini turns around and stares at me, bright black animal eyes glinting like marbles in the dark.

All right, I tell him. He makes a wet noise in the back of his throat. Okay. Let’s just keep looking.

*  *  *

A few feet down the hall is a plaque honoring the service of Daniel Arnold Carver, on the occasion of his retirement from the Rotary, Ohio, Police Department at the rank of lieutenant, in the Year of Our Lord 1998. Next to that commemoration is an upside-down horseshoe of construction-paper cards from local children: stick-figure cops waving gaily in bold Crayola colors, with Thanks for the tour! written below in the neat handwriting of an elementary school teacher. The cards are dangling from fading twists of Scotch tape; the plaque is slightly misaligned and covered in a half inch of dust.

The next room is on the left, a few feet past the plaque and the kids’ drawings. It’s marked DETECTIVES, although the first thing I notice on entering is that there was only one detective. One desk, one swivel chair. One landline phone, with the cord cut, the receiver sitting unattached in the cradle like stage furniture. A long-dead flowering plant hangs from the ceiling: wilted stalks and clumps of brown leaves. A plastic water bottle on its side, half crushed.

I can picture the detective who once sat in this room, tilted back in the chair, finalizing the small details of a coming meth-lab bust, say, or cursing with crusty good humor at some ham-fisted directive from the know-nothings over in Admin. I sniff the air and imagine I detect the ancient stale odor of his cigars.

Her cigars, actually. Hers. There’s a thick leather log book on the desk with a name neatly stenciled across the top right corner: Detective Irma Russel. My apologies, Detective Russel, I tell her, wherever she may be, and toss a salute off into the air. I should know better.

I think of Officer McConnell again. She kissed me at last, up on her tiptoes, at the door. Then she pushed me, a good two-handed shove, to send me off on my adventure. Go, she said. Fondly, sadly. Jerk.

The watery daylight is not fully penetrating the one dust-coated window in the detectives room, so I switch back on the beam of the Eveready and hover it over Detective Russel’s log book and flip my way through. The first entry is from just seven months ago. February 14. On Valentine’s Day, Detective Russel reported in neat cursive handwriting that rolling blackouts had been ordered for all municipal buildings countywide, and henceforth all record keeping would be done with pen and paper.

The entries that follow are a record of decline. On March 10 there was a small riot at a food pantry in neighboring Brown County, which spread quickly, resulting in general civil unrest of unanticipated levels. It is noted on March 30 that the department’s force-readiness levels are significantly depleted, at thirty-five percent of previous year’s staffing. ("Jason quit!!! Detective Russel notes parenthetically, the exclamation points bristling with surprise and disappointment.) On April 12, a Bucket List rapist was apprehended and turned out to be Charlie, from Blake’s Feed Supply!!!"

I smile. I like this Detective Russel. I’m not wild about all the exclamation points, but I like her.

I follow the neat handwriting down the run of months. The last entry, dated June 9—sixteen weeks ago—just says Creekbed, and then Heavenly Father keep a good eye on us, would ya?

I linger for a moment, hunched over the notebook. Houdini pads into the room, and I feel his tail brush against my pant leg.

I take out my thin blue notebook from my inside pocket and write down June 9 and Creekbed and Heavenly Father keep a good eye on us, would ya?, trying to write small, keep the words clustered together. It’s the last one of these notebooks I’ve got. My father was a college professor, and when he died he left behind boxes and boxes of these exam-taker’s notebooks, but I have used up many since entering law enforcement, and many more were lost in the fire that consumed my house. Every time I write something down I have this small rustle of anxiety, like what will I do when I run out of pages?

I close Detective Russel’s desk drawers and return the log book to where it was, flipped open to the same page where I found it.

*  *  *

Also in my pocket, tucked in a red plastic Concord Public Library card sleeve, is a wallet-size copy of my sister’s sophomore-year yearbook picture. Nico as a defiant and hip high-school student, in a ratty black T-shirt and cheap eyeglass frames, far too cool to have combed her hair. Her lower lip is jutted out, her mouth twisted: I’ll smile when I want to, not when some mope tells me to say cheese. I wish I was carrying a more recent picture, but I lost them in the fire; the truth is, she’s only eight years out of high school, and the photograph remains current, with regard to Nico Palace’s appearance and affect. My body is itching to perform the familiar rituals, to flip the picture open to strangers—Have you see this girl?—to improvise a set of discerning follow-ups and follow-ups to the follow-ups.

Along with the photograph and the notebook, inside my well-worn tan sport jacket are a few other basic investigative tools: a handheld magnifying glass; a Swiss army knife; a nine-foot retracting tape measure; a second flashlight, smaller and slimmer than the Eveready; a box of .40-caliber rounds. The gun itself, the department-issue SIG Sauer P229 I’ve been carrying for three years now, is in a holster on my hip.

The door of the evidence room clicks open and closed again, and I raise the flashlight at Cortez.

Spray paint, he says, holding up an aerosol canister and giving it an enthusiastic shake-shake-shake. Half full.

Okay, I say. Great.

"Oh, but it is great, Policeman, Cortez says, looking with childlike delight at this find, turning it over in his rough hands. Useful for marking a trail, and easily weaponized. A candle, a paper clip, a match. Voilà: flamethrower. I’ve seen it done. He winks. I’ve done it."

Okay, I say again.

This is how he talks, Cortez the thief, my unlikely partner: like the world will go on forever, like he with his hobbies and habits will go on forever. He sighs and shakes his head sadly at my indifference, and slides past in the darkness like a phantom, away down the hallway in search of more loot. She’s not here, whispers Officer McConnell in my ear. Not judging, not angry. Just noting the obvious. You came all this way for nothing, Detective Palace. She’s not here.

The day is advancing. Dull gold sunlight inching closer to me down here at the far end of the dark hall. The dog, somewhere I can’t see him, but close enough that I hear him coughing. The planet wobbling beneath my feet.


Next to the detectives room is a door marked MUSTER, and this room too is full of familiar objects, coat hooks hung with windbreakers, a well-broken-in blue ball cap, a pair of sturdy Carhartt boots with stiffened laces. Policeman street clothes. In one corner there’s an American flag on a cheap plastic eagle-head stand. An OSHA workplace-safety information sheet is tacked to

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Cosa pensano gli utenti di World of Trouble

275 valutazioni / 51 Recensioni
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Recensioni dei lettori

  • (4/5)
    The end of the human race is days away, but for (forcibly) retired detective Hank Palace, there's one final mystery to solve. The LAST POLICEMAN trilogy is one of the best things I've ever read. Sad, gut-wrenching, and wonderful all at once. Read them and appreciate the world that we have a bit more.
  • (4/5)
    Henry Palace is a great character. He insists on solving mysteries even though an asteroid is rushing to Earth. Other people wouldn't bother, but this detective just has to know the truth before it's too late!

    World of Trouble went by really fast. Ben H. Winters writes in a very easy-to-consume way and wisely uses the threat of the asteroid as a hook (Will it really land? Will everyone really die?). Meanwhile, this book's case is the most personal yet for Palace and tests his usual emotionless crime solving method.

    I half-expected this book to jump the shark and move into a crazy Independence Day direction (big Willy style). But with a steady hand, Winters keeps it a crime novel from start to finish.

    World of Trouble does suffer somewhat from the fact that the world has already been pretty well established in the first two books. We have already seen what society's come to, so the setting does not carry as much intrigue.

    Even so, as a conclusion the novel works, provides satisfying answers to the series' big questions. It nicely wraps up a solid series from a promising author. I can't wait to see what compelling new worlds and characters Ben H. Winters has in store for us next!
  • (3/5)
    Loved "The Last Policeman", "Countdown City" less, and now "World of Trouble" not so much. I have literally skimmed the book to just get done. The Last Policeman was and Edgar Award Winner. What happened? Who locked the author who wrote Last Policeman up and won't let him out to write the rest? Never so glad to see a trilogy end.
  • (4/5)
    Wow. I loved this trilogy. Gritty old fashioned detective novel set during an impending apocalypse. So creative and engaging. I didn't want it to end. Can't we have a 4th in the trilogy!?
  • (5/5)
    I kinda just want to say "ditto". Did you happen to read my reviews of the first two books? I could blather on much the same, but that is boring. What I want to talk about is the series as a whole. Each book is its own separate story. But each is part of a much bigger picture, leading to the end. That is what I love about this series. Most books about any kind of apocalypse begin after it happened, or during. This is the before. Its no secret, an asteroid is going to hit the planet. The vast majority of humanity will die. But that is not so much the point, the point is what do we do in the mean time. How do we choose to 'bow out" so to speak. That is what kept me riveted with each story. There is a statement made , that civilization is nothing but a promise. A promise to live a certain way, to treat others a certain way, you get the idea. So the question is would you give up on that promise?
  • (4/5)
    Hank Palace is still convinced that the world is going to end but his sister is missing and all those documents and the helicopter makes him wonder if something is not actually different. But even if he did not wonder, he would not have stayed in that safe house in Massachusetts - his sister Nico is missing after all. At the opening of that third novel from the trilogy, there are only 6 days left to the 3rd of October when the comet is supposed to hit Earth and destroy life. Hank and Cortez had spent the last few weeks trekking to Ohio after a tip about Nico's whereabouts. And as always, things go crazy almost immediately - Hank need to solve one last murder while looking for his sister and somehow to survive that crazy world - from the Amish family to the guys that found some chicken and just wait the end eating them through people getting crazy and stupid. And amongst all this the threads that started in the first two novels start connecting into a final picture - surprising and logical and the same time. By the end it all will make sense and Winters' depiction of these last crazy days is as masterful as anything he had written before. The weak point of this third novel is the mystery - if you are reading the genre, you suspect who the killer is immediately. Although I am not sure if Winter was even trying to hide it and if Hank's inability to see who it is was not written on purpose - grief, the end of the world and the last crazy months can influence man's logic. It is a wonderful end of a good trilogy - and the way Winters decided to finish it is masterful and surprising - not in the context of the books but nevertheless a bit surprising. But it makes the whole series complete and any other ending would have ruined it. Highly recommended - but the books need to be read in order - this book won't make much sense if you had not read the previous two.
  • (4/5)
    I loved this series. One of the best end of the world stories from beginning to end. A great blending of science fiction and mystery. Be warned though. This is a realistic story. If you are looking for happiness and survival you have come to the wrong location. It is a sad and complicated story. You will not leave filled with pep. You will leave after an incredible journey and beautiful writing. This is the apocalypse done right.
  • (5/5)
    Rating: 4.5* of fiveThe Publisher Says: There are just 14 days until a deadly asteroid hits the planet, and America has fallen into chaos. Citizens have barricaded themselves inside basements, emergency shelters, and big-box retail stores. Cash is worthless; bottled water is valuable beyond measure. All over the world, everyone is bracing for the end.But Detective Hank Palace still has one last case to solve. His beloved sister Nico was last seen in the company of suspicious radicals, armed with heavy artillery and a plan to save humanity. Hank's search for Nico takes him from Massachusetts to Ohio, from abandoned zoos and fast food restaurants to a deserted police station where he uncovers evidence of a brutal crime. With time running out, Hank follows the clues to a series of earth-shattering revelations.The third novel in the Last Policeman trilogy, World of Trouble presents one final pre-apocalyptic mystery – and Hank Palace confronts questions way beyond whodunit: How far would you go to protect a loved one? And how would you choose to spend your last days on Earth?My Review: If there is one series I can *COUNT*ON* not to have extra volumes, it's this one. I can't imagine I'm spoilering this for anyone. The world ends the same time the book does.Leading up to that finale to end all finales is our buddy Hank doin' his Hankly duty: Looking for his sister Nico and finding the odds and sods of wherever he is in his way. Of course, he has erstwhile baddie Cortez and poor, sick Houdini the dog in tow. Each presents Hank with different kinds of drags on his none-too-swift progress. Each has some claim on him. All the way through these three novels, Hank Palace has been on the Hero's Journey, with all the trappings. It's more stark in this concluding (!) volume.But there's a reason humans have kept this storyline around so long: It's riveting. Even with the literal end of the world looming, it matters, matters, that Hank finds his sister. We want him to succeed in his quest! What possible meaning can a quest have to people who will be discrete atoms in a matter of weeks, days, finally hours.Put something in a pressure cooker and, when the lid's open, it's very obvious what it's made of. It's the same with people. Hank? He's made of stern, strong stuff. He's taken on the pain and the fear of each person he's met and he's done his level best to rid them of it; even when he can't he's changed the others to better fit around their pain.In his own last hours, suffering mightily the curse of the strong to bear more burdens than their own, Hank seeks out the last human he knows whose strength matches his own. As Life ends, Hank holds the hand of a girl whose burdens are as his own, and they know that moment of glad sharing we all seek after for all our lives.
  • (4/5)
    A strong ending to the trilogy.

    I almost felt that the middle book could've been skipped, but the story is back on track in the third.

    Former detective Hank Palace's sister was last seen in a helicopter, zooming off with a cultlike group with seemingly far-fetched plans to rescue an imprisoned physicist and save the world in a daring last-minute bid to knock the asteroid that's headed for Earth out of its apocalyptic trajectory.

    Hank is feeling guilty that his last interaction with his sister involved his refusing to believe her and shooting down her hopes. (And maybe he has a little bit of hope that her optimistic beliefs aren't quite as cockamamie as they sounded?) With two weeks to go till impact, Hank decides to take on a last case - a personal case - and sets out to track down his sister.

    As one might expect, given the scenario, there's a desperation and sadness to this book. But it's also a tense and grippingly-told story. Bringing the personal element to it to the fore is a winning strategy, as we see Hank struggling to use his OCD-like obsession with detective work to try to bring meaning and a sense of conclusion to his life and to the increasingly senseless violence and entropy that surrounds him.

    Highly recommended for all fans of apocalyptic fiction.

    Many thanks to Quirk Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read. As always, my opinions are solely my own.
  • (4/5)
    Critically acclaimed author Ben H. Winters delivers this explosive final installment in the Edgar Award winning Last Policeman series. With the doomsday asteroid looming, Detective Hank Palace has found sanctuary in the woods of New England, secure in a well-stocked safe house with other onetime members of the Concord police force. But with time ticking away before the asteroid makes landfall, Hank’s safety is only relative, and his only relative—his sister Nico—isn’t safe. Soon, it’s clear that there’s more than one earth-shattering revelation on the horizon, and it’s up to Hank to solve the puzzle before time runs out . . . for everyone. My Review A very interesting ending to a very entertaining trilogy!
  • (5/5)
    With 14 days left before a world-ending asteroid is scheduled to collide with Earth, Detective Hank Palace continues his search to find his sister before the end comes. Hank follows leads he had acquired previously to follow Nico's trail to a small town police station in Ohio, where Nico and her conspiracy theory peers plan to meet up with a rogue scientist in a last ditch attempt to save the planet. When Hank gets to the station, however, Nico is gone, although clues suggest that she was there recently. Unable to let it go and enjoy his last few days of life, Hank is determined to figure out what happened to his sister and where she went. In doing so, he meets a number of unusual people who help him finish his quest. I enjoyed reading each of the books in the Last Policeman Trilogy, which I thought were interesting and possibly realistic. I thought this one was probably the most suspenseful and climatic of the three and I liked how the author pulled the story together. I also enjoyed seeing Hank stay true to his ideals throughout the three books. For those who enjoy apocalyptic fiction mixed with the suspense of detective work, this series is for you!
  • (5/5)
    Life’s too short. More and more I’m finally starting to understand the value of my time.

    I’ve spent many nights at the computer with reruns of Star Trek in the background. It used to help my brain unwind. I used to spend way too much time with Gaming (at the computer, on my tablet, etc) because I felt that unplugging was more beneficial than doing work-related stuff. That’s only partially temporization-related bullshit. I do feel better actually having time off, but once I’m in this state I get caught up in the inertia of being off and that’s not good. I have to find better ways to structure my time. This includes the time I spend reading.

    You can read the rest of this review on my blog.
  • (4/5)
    The final book in "The Last Policeman" series. A week before impending destruction by an asteroid, it's up to Hank to find his sister. Edge-of-the seat, apocalyptic, and a wonderful trilogy. Couldn't put it down.
  • (2/5)
    I enjoyed the series overall. It had an interesting concept and was fun to read, albeit a bit short. I did feel that the ending was a bit of a letdown in a way that nothing was really gained from the whole experience - Occam's Razor applies. Character development also wasn't quite up to what I'd hoped, but hey - the world's ending after all.
  • (5/5)
    The third book in this preapocalypic trilogy finds Hank searching for his estranged sister Nico, so he can make amends before It's Too Late. His pursuit takes him from the Northeast to the Midwest, accompanied by Houdini, his ailing dog, and Cortez, a thief that he liberates from jail. At this point, the end of the world is 6 days away, and coming fast.Hank and Cortez have taken to labeling towns as Blue, Green, Red, etc., based on the color of the Post-It Notes they have with them. Blue towns are empty; Green towns are still in denial, so it's business as usual, and Red towns are on fire, literally or figuratively. Our heroes pass through all the colors on their road trip to the west, ending up at the police station of a small town in Ohio. There, they find evidence that Nico has been there, and might still be, if they can just crack through some concrete leading to stairs below the basement. At the same time, they find evidence of gruesome violence--bloodied knives and blood trails leading in and out of the police station. Whose blood is it?Winters outdoes himself with this one: the police procedural/mystery aspects were very satisfying, and the twists made complete sense. The various flavors of human nature were all done well, too. But what packs the most punch is the constant tick-tick-tick of the clock. No do-overs, no second chances--this is it. When you know it's the last time you're going to do something, see something, it means more. Everything means more in World of Trouble.This is another one of those books that follows the adage: "Science fiction isn't the story; it's the setting." Great ending to a unique trilogy.
  • (4/5)
    '...there are not jostling anxious crowds outside, no frightened people rushing and pushing past each other in the streets. No klaxon howl of car alarms, no distant gunfire. The people are hidden now, those that remain, hidden under blankets or in basements, encased in their dread.'With mere weeks left before the impending asteroid makes impact with the earth, Detective Henry Palace is on a last minute mission to get to his sister Nico before it's too late. Nico is convinced that the group she's joined up with is going to be able to save the world with the help of a nuclear scientist by the name of Hans-Michael Parry but Palace is convinced that it's nothing but a farce. One way or another, he intends to do anything and everything he can to ensure his sisters safety and solve his final case for the brief time that he may or may not have left.'They say that just before impact the sky will brighten ferociously, like the sun has burst from its own skin, and then we will feel it, even on the far of the earth we will feel it, the whole world will quaver from the blow.'The journey to find his sister is a difficult one. The few clues he has takes him and his dog Houdini from New Hampshire to Ohio and upon reaching the abandoned police station in the small town of Rotary, the evidence he sees leaves the outlook bleak. His determination to find his sister despite the knowledge that in a few days it will no longer matter is heartrending but his resolve is truly admirable. Society is crumbling around him and the world is literally about to come to an end yet Detective Henry Palace is doing whatever he can to maintain his morality even in the face of mortality. World of Trouble is an engaging end to a thrilling trilogy that you will want to race through to determine the fate of the earth and its inhabitants. I've never been so pleased with a not so happy ending.
  • (5/5)
    It is difficult to write a review of World of Trouble (Quirk, 2014) that is in no way spoilery. Fans of The Last Policeman series are keen to know what will happen to Detective Henry Palace, to his sister and friends, indeed, to the entire world, because Earth is only days away from being struck by an asteroid similar in size to the one that killed the dinosaurs. Did Henry find his sister? Is his sister really part of a plan to save the world? Will her group's rogue plan work?But I'm not going to tell you. I'm not even going to hint at what's to come, because you deserve to learn it directly from Ben Winters, who, with World of Trouble, proves himself a master of suspense. Instead, I'm going to address you, one reader to another, to make plain to you just how affecting Winters's novel is. That I'm writing in this in first person, a voice I normally eschew in reviews, is a testament the poignancy of the story.A note for those of you who haven't read The Last Policeman and Countdown City: World of Trouble is the final entry in a coherent trilogy. Although you may be able to follow the story without having read its predecessors, as Winters provides exposition on the events leading up to World of Trouble, I recommend that you read the novel as it's intended, as the culmination of a series.The plot is straightforward: Palace and the thief, Cortez, set out from Massachusetts, heading to Ohio, in search of Nico, Henry's sister. Meanwhile, with the asteroid only a week away, civilization has reached its nadir. If The Last Policeman was really about what people do as they face death, and Countdown City an exploration of our relationships ("contracts"), then World of Trouble is a meditation on the narratives we construct, the meanings we create, as we navigate the world, en route to our final destinations. We cleave to religion, we cling to conspiracy theories, or, like Henry, we stubbornly insist on whatever "truth" is immediately in front of us. "I am a question mark pointed at a secret," Henry says. "Cortez is a tool aimed at the stubborn places of the world." Police work is not simply Henry's job; it's his raison d'être.Of course, Winters veils these existential musings behind the procedural framework of a detective story. Here, Henry gives meaning to what may be his last week on Earth by seeking out his sister, who went missing in Countdown City. Nico insisted that she and her friends had access to a secret means of repelling the asteroid, and Henry last saw her departing in a helicopter for parts unknown. This is a missing persons, case, then, and Henry applies all the detective skills he's learned--mostly from textbooks--to solve it. Palace's and Cortez's journey to Ohio reveals the gamut of society's decay as humanity faces its end. Palace and Cortez create a new taxonomy to describe the towns through which they pass: "Red" towns are troubled, dissolved into violence; "blue" towns are on edge, mainly peaceful, but apt to erupt; "green" towns have somehow achieved peace. The citizenry of one green town gathers on the commons to sing hymns. In another, all the lawns are mowed. Details such as these lend to World of Trouble a reality absent from many "apocalyptic" novels. We are trained to believe the worst, that everyone would turn on each other, and we're right: The worst would happen. But Winters gently corrects us, noting that people are capable of better, too, and that good things can occur even in the worst of circumstances. Palace encounters a variety of responses to the world's end. He's fed by a hedonistic couple living in an RV in a parking lot. They spend their days listening to rock, getting drunk, and having sex. A convoy of Midwestern-types stops at a Target-style store to scavenge. Palace marvels at their organization, at the way one guard stares at the sky, bored, whereas, just a few months earlier, she would have played with her phone. An Amish family in Ohio exists in an oasis of peace and plenty. Palace's response is to move ever forward, eyes on the prize: Find Nico. Each encounter, good and otherwise, becomes a step on this quest, a problem to be solved. It's not the asteroid that troubles Palace, it's the need for answers. As with The Last Policeman and Countdown City, World of Trouble is told from Henry's perspective, ensuring that the reader is deeply embedded in the mystery until the very end. Winters's prose is at its best here, revealing not only Henry's character, but also the world in which he operates (as befits a detective). The story beckons us forward, faster now, faster, desperate to know what twist will next befall Palace as he searches for Nico. We're urged on, too, of course, by our need to know if her conspiracy is real, if the asteroid might be stopped, if it will really hit--and, if so, what happens then. But that's something you can only find out by reading the book.As I read World of Trouble, I was reminded of lyrics from a song (by Tim O'Brien) of the same title: "It's a world of trouble, it's a world of pain / The clouds, they see me comin', and they know it's time to rain." And that's what it's like for Henry Palace, though he faces it with a grace, I imagine, far superior to that most of us are capable of.We're just over halfway through 2014 and, over the past few weeks, I've seen a number of lists of "best books of the year so far." World of Trouble, out on July 15, didn't make any of those lists. I predict its inclusion on the "best of" lists that will be composed later this year. It's that good. Highly recommended.
  • (4/5)
    Ben H. Winters' Last Policeman trilogy began with a built-in expiration date, and World of Trouble ends it in style. There may be a week before the end of the world, but the landscape Hank Palace travels through looks as though it's already happened. Technology died a long time ago. Cities are blackened and abandoned ruins. Bicycles are the most advanced mode of transportation. People have turned into hoarders and scroungers. Very few have the courage or the desire to show kindness to strangers, so Hank and his dog Houdini have no one to rely on but themselves.While the first two books in the trilogy were pre-apocalyptic mysteries (The Last Policeman and Countdown City), this final book begins as a straightforward tale of a brother going to be with his sister at the end of days. But Hank Palace is a young man who has always done his best to do the right thing, so it should be no surprise that he manages to find a puzzle or two that need solving before time runs out. Anyone who wanted a more explosive ending to the trilogy may not like this rather quiet, somber book. I didn't know what to expect and was content to let the story unfold. I was not disappointed. Hank Palace is a character that will live on in my memory as will the author's vision of the end of the world. I'm sad that the trilogy has come to an end; however, Winters appears to have followed the advice of P.T. Barnum: Always leave them wanting more. I'm looking forward to what Winters' imagination has in store for us next.
  • (5/5)
    Filled with twists and turns - as the other two books in this series - it's sad to see this series end. Well-paced, detail-driven, and a finale that arrived in a quite different way than expected, this left me melancholy and wanting more - which I know won't arrive. It was a good, fun read.
  • (4/5)
    Book three in the pre-apocalyptic detective series that started with The Last Policeman. In this one, the end is now extremely nigh indeed, and Henry Palace goes searching for his sister, who still believes doomsday is avoidable, and finds one last crime to solve.I found this a satisfying end to the series, and a rather affecting one. There is something almost unbearably poignant about Palace and his inability to stop being a policeman long after so many things have completely ceased to matter.
  • (4/5)
    Note: There are no spoilers, except as clearly marked.This is Book Three in a pre-apocalyptic/noir/police-procedural series set in more-or-less current times.Henry (“Hank”) Palace, 29, is a police detective in Concord, New Hampshire, who got promoted from patrol officer because basically everybody else walked off the job. In fact, people all over the world walked off their jobs, because “Maia,” a 6.5-kilometer-diameter asteroid, is on a collision course with the earth. It will, according to reliable sources, cause a series of interlocking cataclysms resulting in the immediate death of at least half the world's population, with later deaths to follow.In the first book in this trilogy, The Last Policeman, there were six months left until the date of collision. In Book Two, Countdown City, only 77 days remained. In this final installment of the series, there are 14 days left until impact. In the previous books, we learned that many people have committed suicide, committed murder, joined religious sects, zoned out on drugs, or got to work stocking up a basement with any supplies that could be saved or stolen. But being a policeman is what has always made sense to Hank, so that’s what he still does, even without pay.Now he is using what he thinks is his remaining time to find his younger sister Nico. Nico, long a rebel and an iconoclast, is part of a group that contends the path of the asteroid can be diverted by a pinpoint nuclear explosion, with a theoretical success probability of 85%. The group believes that the government has imprisoned the scientist who can make this “standoff burst” happen, and so they are working against the cosmic clock to try to free him and save the world.In Book Two, Hank got impatient and angry with Nico:"I told her this was delusional. I told her this was Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy and she was being a fool, and then she disappeared and I let her go.”In this book, although Hank still believes that he is right and Nico is wrong, he is obsessed with finding her in order to make up for their final bitter conversation, hug her, and apologize for letting her go. Hank and Nico are polar opposites, but they love each other; they are all each other has left of a family. Hank cannot bear to think of not reconciling before whatever is coming. But concurrent with his quest, he feels compelled to keep trying to help uphold the moral order and “do the right thing”, even though there is no longer much justification for any of it.Spoilery Discussion:WARNING: SKIP THIS NEXT SECTION TO AVOID SPOILERS AND SCROLL DOWN TO EVALUATION.What makes this pre-apocalyptic trilogy unique is that Winters actually allows the apocalypse to happen. There are no last minute saves, no dei ex machina, no Bill Pullman getting in the fighter plane and taking out the enemy. The world ends. Before it does so, Winters takes us on a tour of most of the possible reactions you might see to impending doom by an approaching asteroid: religious hysteria, crime sprees, sex sprees, psychosis, drugs, denial - but then there is Hank Palace, keeping on keeping on, cycling through the country in search of his younger sister. He is almost oblivious to the dangers that keep getting thrown in his path; nothing can stop him in his crusade. And in the end, he experiences a kind of redemption, in a lovely bittersweet dénouement reminiscent of On the Beach by Nevil Shute (a story known to most people by the still-amazingly good 1959 movie adaptation starring Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire and Anthony Perkins). END OF SPOILERSEvaluation: I thought this third book was the best in the series, rather than following the usual pattern of a trilogy starting out great and then petering out by the end. Although I never really connected with either Hank or Nico, the story certainly is thought-provoking - what would you do, if you thought the world would end in six months?
  • (5/5)
    World of Trouble is the last of a three book series. Although I had not read either of the first two, I never thought I was missing anything from the story. It is truly a great standalone book with interesting characters and very well written. Detective Hank Palace wants to solve one last case before the catastrophic asteroid hits Earth. His sister is missing and he wants to connect with her one last time. There were times I didn’t understand why Hank behaved as he did, but I was totally fascinated by his character. As I read through this book, there was a subtle gloom because we know what is coming, but as much as I wanted like a different conclusion, I am glad the author stayed true to the story. This will probably end up in my top 10 favorite books for this year. I can’t wait to go back and read the first two of the series.
  • (4/5)
    World of Trouble (The Last Policeman #3) by Ben H. Winters – This is the final book in this very interesting, suspenseful, entertaining, and yet disturbing trilogy. Police Detective Hank Palace is still trying to solve and prevent crimes, even though there are no police departments anymore. However, that’s what Hank does and it is better to continue being a police detective than to hang around fretting about the approaching asteroid that has targeted Earth as its bulls-eye. This volume begins with only 14 days until the projected destruction of our planet by the asteroid. Hank has decided he must find his younger sister, Nico, who had joined a group of incredulous and likely dangerous radicals who claimed they were going to save the Earth from the end of times. Hank’s search for her leads him from New England to Ohio with a dubious colleague. On the journey Hank witnesses people struggling to cope with the ominous future and encounters many dangerous and violent situations. This is a desperate finale to a very well-written and engaging trilogy.
  • (5/5)
    HOW IS HE GOING TO FINISH IT? The book, the world, Hank Palace, his sister Nico. How does it end?Oh man. Well, look. I loved these books. As I've said, loved the whole premise, loved the characters. And this one doesn't disappoint. Henry's ensconced in lovely Massachusetts with a gang of ex-policemen, living out their final days in relative happiness and comfort. He's picked up a few hangers on from the last few books: a dog, Houdini, Cortez, an opportunistic thief who's taken a shine to Palace. But the pull of his sister, Nico, like a planet gently tugging at a 6km wide asteroid, is too much to resist. She's out with a rogue unit who think they may have a way to avert the global crisis, and they appear to have heavy duty firepower behind them, since she rescued Hank at the end of the last book with a helicopter -- a rare luxury, indeed, in a time when things like running water are hard to come by.So Hank embarks on his final case, a bit of police work to find his sister and her band of merry men looking to stave off the end of the world.I read this one on the plane from Massachusetts to San Francisco -- I should have been sleeping, should have closed my eyes and rested a bit, but I couldn't. I rifled through this book, no tell tale compression of the pages because this was in iBooks, but the end always drawing nearer as the asteroid loomed over all the action, the days counting down even as Hank lost hours, days at a time due to injuries or accidents.This was a beautiful and final cap to the series. I didn't quite know how it was going to end, not really, this time, nor did I know how I wanted it to end. The denouement with the remains of Nico's elite squad was, as in previous books, the weaker scene in the book -- telegraphed from a mile away, but, again, I couldn't help but wonder if it was meant to be because of Palace's rookie status as a detective. But the stuff that mattered throughout the series -- what happens to Hank, to Nico, to Houdini, in the end, ah, well, that was all worth the ride.I really enjoyed this series, as you may have gathered.
  • (5/5)
    After scientists announced that asteroid 2011GV1 will slam into the earth within the next six months destroying most of the planet, many people abandoned their responsibilities and went off to pursue their bucket-lists during their remaining days.In book one, The Last Policeman, we are introduced to Detective Hank Palace, a regular guy still doing his job, fighting crime and living his life while society is breaking down around him. Even if the world may soon end, Hank takes his job seriously, and eventually solves the crime.In book two, Countdown City, scientists have pinpointed the date of impact with the asteroid and now know most of earth will be destroyed in 74 days. Hank has been laid off from his job in the Crimes Division; no one cares about solving crimes anymore. Except for Hank. Against a backdrop of an increasingly dysfunctional world, Hank agrees to try to find a friend’s husband who has gone missing.In the final book, World of Trouble, the earth is days away from the asteroid strike. Rather than seek safety, Hank, accompanied by his dog and a grifter/thief he met a few months back, set out to find his sister who has run off with a cult that has a plan to save the world.The pace picks up with a sense of urgency as Hank becomes more and more desperate to find his sister, and time is running out. The journey is treacherous and approaching people along the way can be deadly. The author has given us a realistic sense of what it would be like in those final days. Food is difficult to come by and technology is non-existent.The characters are well-developed and the reader will easily become engaged in the story while racing to end for what we expect to be the inevitable conclusion. I’m not going to tell you if the world does end, but I will say there were some unexpected turns along the way that will keep you guessing.While the first two books can be read as stand alone novels for their mystery/detective story, the final book will be best enjoyed as the culmination of a series, where questions are answered and loose ends are tied up in a satisfying conclusion.
  • (5/5)
    Ben Winters' trilogy is about a young policeman who, despite the fact that the world is ending in a few months when a huge asteroid will strike the Earth with catastrophic results, continues trying to do his job. By the third book, though, Henry Palace is driven more by his responsibilities as a big brother to reckless sister Nico, who believes that a scientist holds the key to averting disaster. In the second installment, Nico arrived - in a helicopter - just in time to save Hank. How did she fly a helicopter in an already-devastated world where fuel is almost completely extinct? Despite himself, Henry starts to believe his sister's crackpot theory may not be so delusional after all. But none of that really matters to the true goal - seeing his sister again before the world ends. Henry follows a scrap of information to Ohio, encountering all kinds of towns along the way, everyone reacting to impending doom in a different manner. Will Hank find Nico? Can the asteroid be diverted? How will Ben Winters end this fantastic tale of a genuinely good guy in an impossibly difficult situation? --Beautifully, that's how. This series with heart and humor, mystery and surprise, is well worth reading.
  • (4/5)
    This is the last book in the "Last Policeman" trilogy, and a good end to the story. All of these books have been solid 3.5-4 star reads for me. The main character, Hank Palace, is a former police officer who is set adrift as the end of the world approaches (a giant asteroid has been discovered headed straight for Earth). Hank is a Good Guy - upright, moral, just wanting to do the right thing. As civilization collapses, he tries to figure out how to maintain his sense of self amid the chaos.The overarching story of the trilogy deals with Hank's sister, and her belief that the world can be saved. As Hank tried to save her (both from herself and from the weird group of conspiracy theorists she has taken up with), he is confronted by choices that test his ideas of right and wrong and force him into compromises with himself. Hank is a wonderful character and carries the story, even as the rest of it seems far-fetched and silly at times. I especially loved the end of this book and the peace that Hank finds. Winters has done an excellent job of asking what matters most in life and how one should confront the end; his exploration of possible answers makes for some good reading.
  • (3/5)
    After receiving this book through LibraryThing's 'early reviewer' program I admit I let it sit on the shelf for a long time. Why? Simply because I didn't want the trilogy to end and I knew once I began book 3 I wouldn't move much until it was over. This is an author I recommended after reading book 1, book 2, and now I can add book 3 to that list. Well done, Mr. W!
  • (4/5)
    A very good and very real ending to this trilogy.
  • (5/5)
    This final entry in a trilogy of apocalyptic novels brings to a close the story of a young policeman trying to solve a horrific crime and find his missing sister in the few months before Earth is hit by a huge asteroid which is guaranteed to kill all life. The sister is involved with an underground group which believes they have a lead on destroying the asteroid, so even though the collision is pretty much a done deal, the reader is never completely sure how the book will end. I've read the whole series, and this is a wonderful conclusion, with characters who have all sorts of ways to face the end and a main character who is believable, likeable, and interesting. If you like apocalyptic-type fiction or even just mysteries, give the series a try. Very nicely worked, indeed!