Review: Countdown City by Ben H. Winters

July 16, 2013 Mystery/Suspense, Quirk Books, Review 7

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Quirk Books (July 16, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 1594746265
  • Source: Publisher

In this second volume of the Last Policeman trilogy, only 77 days remain before a asteroid collides with Earth. The Concord police now report to the U.S. Justice Department leaving Detective Hank Palace without a job. Still, every day he dons his suit and tie, working “cases” to keep himself busy.  Then, out of the blue, he is contacted by his childhood babysitter, Martha, begging for help in finding her missing husband.

Considering the current state of things, people disappear quite regularly, going “bucket list” to accomplish things before the world ends. They abandon their lives, including spouses and families in order to take advantage of their last days on Earth. Or, they simply disappear. If it was anyone else asking for help, Palace would have declined. Yet something about the passion and intensity in this woman’s request gives Palace the initiative to do a bit of investigating. Besides, how else is he going to spend his remaining days on Earth?

Palace’s investigation soon leads him straight to his sister, Nico, involved in an underground group set on putting a stop to the asteroid themselves. Palace was always reluctant to believe anything this group had to say, yet given information he uncovers in his investigation, he is beginning to wonder if they might be on to something. Could the government be involved in the deaths of hundreds of citizens?

Readers of the first book in this series, The Last Policeman, will appreciate the return of some of the original characters, including those Palace worked with on the force.  Solving crimes and locating missing persons has drastically changed as of late, forcing Palace to rely on some pretty unlikely characters to learn more about the fate of Martha’s husband.

Countdown City is a tremendous second novel in this trilogy, devoid of any “sophomore slump,” avoiding issues that many “middle child” books in a trilogy seem to be threatened with. Winters expertly blends a pre-apocalyptic “drama” with a detective story, really honing in on how people respond and react to a crumbling society.  Each chapter has the intensity to keep the attention and anticipation alive, aided by truly compelling characters.  Additionally, readers get a glimpse into a more philosophical side of Hank Palace, adding an entirely new dimension to his character.

Countdown City will appeal to both fans of mystery and science fiction.  I do recommend that you start at the beginning of the series for it is imperative to learn a bit of history about each character in order to understand their motivations.  While Winters does dish out a bit of back story, it is only an abridged version of what transpires in the first novel.

I am anxiously awaiting the final book in the trilogy. Is it horrible that I am counting down to the day the asteroid hits, if only it means that I get to read more from Winters and his incredibly endearing and likeable character in Hank Palace?  Bottom line: if you are looking for a truly outstanding story with rich and dynamic characters, this is the trilogy for you. Highly, highly recommended.

Thanks to the publisher, I have a pretty outstanding giveaway lined up!  Three winners will receive the first two books in The Last Policeman trilogy and a poster as well.  To enter, simply answer the question: If you had 77 days left on Earth, what would you do?

Open to U.S. & Canadian residents only.  Please be certain to complete the email address field (it won’t appear publicly) or enter your twitter handle so I can contact you if are a winner!  Winners will be contacted on Friday, July 26th.

7 Responses to “Review: Countdown City by Ben H. Winters”

  1. Word Lily
    Twitter: Wordlily

    Yikes, that’s a hard question! I’d definitely spend the time with my family, probably going to see all (or at least some of) those places I’ve/we’ve always wanted to see but haven’t yet.

  2. rhonda

    I would bring my family and best friends together cook eat enjoy every last second.

  3. Anne Simonot

    Oh my… Cry? Scream? Rage? Then probably start hitting that bucket list… See Scotland.. Australia… Then cry some more. Lol.

  4. quirksmag

    I guess I would pack up my things, head to the airport and backpack around Europe. If I am going to dye, I might as well have some fun. Oh, and I would definitely go back to smoke the Marlboro Lights I loved, but quit a few years ago.