In the Books Section:
The Last Policeman
Discussed January 2017
By Ben H. Winters
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- Did you finish the book? Did you like it?
- Any thoughts about the present-tense narrative? Like it? Hate it?
- Do you find the depiction of a pre-apocalypse world convincing? Did anything in particular strike you about the way Winters portrays the crumbling of society?
- What do you make of Palace as a character? What do you think his motivations are? Why doesn’t he just give up and find the beach house in Maine (240)?
This is how Winters explains it: “Well, you know, he took an oath. Which is kind of a glib answer, but it goes to the heart of what the book is about. All the promises and assurances we make to each other and ourselves, as a society—from wedding vows between people to mutual-defense pacts between nations to the illusion that paper currency has value—how much is any of it really worth?
The other answer has to do with Palace’s childhood. As the reader learns in bits and pieces over the course of the novel, Palace has had a rough go of it, even before the asteroid showed up. The defiant child in him refuses to be cowed, refuses to be quit, end of the world or no end of the world.” (http://www.quirkbooks.com/post/qa-ben-h-winters-author-last-policeman)
- What compels Palace to treat this death like a murder in the first place? Do you see parallels between Palace and Zell?
- Is this a science fiction novel? A detective novel?
- Are there any of the standard tropes of the detective story here—the hard-boiled detective, wise-cracking dame, etc.? If so, how does Winters treat them?
- Is the murder investigation actually the main story in this novel?
- Would you read the other two books in the trilogy?