Sunday, August 31, 2014

Countdown City, by Ben H. Winters- Review

From Goodreads:
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.

I probably shouldn't start my review of the second book of a series of three with the words, this was my favourite one, but I'm gonna be all badass and do it- Countdown City was totally my favourite of the Last Policeman Series.

OK, now I'm going to be good and not muddy the waters with info on book three, we'll get there in good time (Wednesday, I totally wrote it first because I wanted to save the best for last, though there's no way I can publish these reviews this way, so hang tight).  

Once again Winters has set off his fantastic detective, Hank Palace, on what is sure to become the most impossible of adventures.  Despite the quickly deteriorating state of affairs, Palace is plugging along as your run of the mill police detective. He has his trusty notebook, his charming sidekick (Houdini of course,  McGully and Culverson are anything but charming), and he's ready to deal with crime, one at a time in the most orderly of ways he can possibly manage, and just turn a blind eye to societal breakdown.

Things go from bad, to much, much worse, pretty quickly, and it's looking grim when all hell truly breaks out. I won't go into anymore of it, for fear of spoilage, but suffice to say it was surprising, and full of plot twists and turns, the last one involving coffee, and really, if I could wish Hank anything it would be coffee, and probably some good kibble for Houdini, I worry about that dog.  Regardless, Winters managed to really take me unawares in ways I found both exciting and heart warming, and with the grim march towards the asteroid collision I really wasn't expecting any redemption, for anyone really. What I'm saying is, it really keeps this story going, having a bit of good mixed in.

One of the things I find especially enjoyable in these books, are the little windows into the lives of the people who do the right thing. Things are far from good, and most of society has basically thrown in the towel, but those who are trying to eke out the last bit of good, and pay it forward wherever possible- Hank's people really- are heartwarming, but also what keep these books from being hopelessly depressing. They are also, often, the source of small bits of humour.
"As circulation improves over the next couple weeks, you'll start to get a persistent tingling, and then you'll need physical therapy to work toward regular functioning. Then, around early October, a massive object will strike Earth and you will die."
Granted, the humour is a bit dark, but well, the books are a bit dark. A great follow up to the surprisingly enjoyable Last Policeman, Countdown City was a great read.  And I read it while visiting relatives, which is a distracting way to read at the best of times, but which can really wreck a mid range book for me, so obviously this book was well above the mid-range bar.  Such glowing praise, I know, but it's true, it takes a great book to whisk you away while you're in the middle of chaos.

Countdown City, by Ben H. Winters
Published by Quirk Books, July 16th, 2013
My copy kindly provided by the publisher
Buy Countdown City on Amazon


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