Review: Countdown City by Ben H. Winters


Countdown City (The Last Policeman Book 2)
by Ben H. Winters

Quirk Books, 320 pages
» Buy it locally at Nightbird Books

It’s all bad news for former Detective Hank Palace. He’s out of a job, but still feels compelled to work. He’s made promises. A promise to protect his younger sister Nico, and a promise to Martha Cavatone, the woman who helped raise him and Nico, to find her missing husband. There are no cars, and no phones, and Hank no longer has the authority of his badge to protect him. The world has changed, in 77 days an asteroid will crash into Earth and everyone will die.

Brett Cavatone was a State Trooper who quit to work at Rocky’s Rock and Bowl, a pizza place and bowling alley, and the last place Brett was seen. Brett disappeared without explanation. Martha wants Hank to find Brett and bring him back, not an easy task. In the shadow of impending death, Society has crumbled and Brett may not want to be found. Why would Brett leave his wife? Why would a State Trooper quit to work at a pizza shop? Why does Hank Palace risk his life to find a man who may have gone “bucket list”?

Countdown City is the second book in the planned Last Policeman trilogy, and like The Last Policeman, is a thrilling and contagious read. Setting a police procedural close to doomsday allows Winters to ask big questions: Why does one life matter when everyone is going to die? Why keep a promise when facing certain death? What holds us together as a civilization?

I enjoyed Countdown City as a straightforward mystery and as an examination of humanity in crisis. This is an expertly paced novel that stays with you. On the long and twisted journey to find Brett, Hank’s commitment to his work never falters because he made a promise. Hank owes it to Martha to find her husband, or at least to know why.

Countdown City is about the promises we make to one another, and how they form the glue that keeps us together. Hank’s investigation is instantly gripping, as he examines the language and motivations of the people involved. Countdown City is an end of the world adventure you will love reading, with an ending that sets the stage for Book 3. Get into this series if you’re looking for some philosophy in your escapism.

Trailer: The Last Policeman