Countdown City Review

With just 77 days before a deadly asteroid collides with earth, detective Hank Palace just can’t seem to leave police work alone. Though he may have been technically out of a job, when a woman from his past begs for help finding her missing husband he just can’t say no.

Continuing directly from the Edgar® award-winning novel The Last Policeman, Countdown City presents another fascinating mystery set on the brink of apocalypse as Hank Palace seeks desperately to find out ‘whodunit’ while at the same time coming to terms with a world that’s literally coming apart around him. His journey takes him from an anarchistic college campus to a crumbling coastal landscape where anti-immigrant militia shoot down refugee boats descending upon the American coast. At each and every turn he makes Hank Palace must confront some strange new facet of human society that has risen up from the knowledge that very soon the world is going to end.

While on the one hand Countdown City is an assured and highly engaging crime mystery novel, just like its predecessor The Last Policeman, the novel works on so many more levels than your regular ‘whodunit’. Through Hank Palace’s eyes we witness a society falling apart, and we too must ask ourselves: ‘what does it mean to be civilised when civilisation is collapsing all around you?’

One of the great strengths of Countdown City is the bleak and despairing landscape Ben H. Winters paints. While Hank Palace struggles to do what he sees as the ‘right thing’, all around him everyday people are falling to despair. While some people turn to crime, others join strange religious cults, and a very small number just keep doing what they’ve always done. Detective Hank Palace certainly falls into this last category, and as the story progresses, we are left with a distinct feeling that solving crime is the only way Hank Palace can cope with the madness that confronts him at every turn.

Whether you’re a fan of crime novels or not, Countdown City really is an excellent book. Like its predecessor, it works on a level that goes far beyond your traditional whodunit, and presents a pre-apocalyptic world that is both chilling and deeply convincing. As much an exploration of the human psyche as it is a novel about a missing man, I highly recommend Countdown City to readers, and I am already looking forward to finding out how the trilogy ends.

Countdown City is released in paperback on 16 July 2013. Click here to pre-order your copy from Amazon.

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