Review: Countdown City by Ben H. Winters

Countdown CitySource: Quirk Books, I rreceivedthis in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Quirk Books
Series: The Last Policeman #2
Edition: ARC, 316 Page
Genre: Pre-Apocalyptic Mystery
Purchase: Amazon/ Barnes & Noble / Book Depository*
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases

There are just 77 days to go before a deadly asteroid collides with Earth, and Detective Hank 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 just gone. 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.

The second novel in the critically acclaimed Last Policeman trilogy,Countdown City presents a 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?

Countdown City picks up shortly after The Last Policeman closes, with Hank Palace being out of a job but unable to stop helping people. This one centers around his old babysitter and her missing husband, but also continues to highlight the world around him as time moves forward and the end of the world becomes more tangible.

I love Hank. I marveled over his ability to keep focused on helping people even though everyone else is focused on living their last moments by seeing the world or crossing items off of their bucket list. Not Hank. He’s lost his job as a detective, but he’s still working and when his old babysitter tells him she can’t find her husband he sets off on a case that many would consider pointless. His journey to find Brett Cavatone leads him back to his sister Nico and her extremely optimistic “mission”. The entirely of this novel focuses on his diehard determination to do the job he has always wanted to do, even when it makes no sense to continue. In some ways it does seem like Hank is in denial about the end of the world, and more than one person asks him “why bother” throughout. Countdown City is his slow realization that he has sort of been spinning his wheels bit.

The pre-apocalyptic world is getting even messier as well, and I really enjoyed seeing more about the people around Hank. We see people try to compensation for the lack of government by making utopian societies, people with extremely HUGE ideas about how to survive, and people who are thriving now that they economy has allowed them to earn a profit of sorts. The mystery itself is a great addition, but readers will find that it’s not at the forefront of the story and find their attention being focused on the deteriorating society more than the missing person’s case.

Countdown City is a fantastic follow up to The Last Policeman and I can’t wait to delve into World of Trouble.

4 stars


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