RECOMMENDED READING: The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters

The Last Policeman is a really enjoyable read, both as a literary novel and as a low-grade mystery/crime thriller. About 60% into the book you suddenly realize that the crime has been solved and all loose ends secured–which leaves one to wonder what the hell is going to occupy the remaining pages. At this point, though, the investigator tracks backward through his solved mystery (not temporally, just in terms if the relationships of cause and effect), and unwinds a whole second layer to it all. So, right there, it would be a great piece of mystery writing, wonderfully managing expectations and non-cheating reveals (a la the best of Christie or Doyle). Throughout, it’s also great crime writing, showing the way that ordinary folks can resolve–without cognitive dissonance–the mismatches between their external and internal lives (I think of Price’s Clockers as being the epitome at this aspect of crime fiction). This is all pinned against an almost classic SF backdrop: Impending meteor strike is gonna end the world on a known date. Everything that means for workaday humans–including this fair-and-square regular-joe cop who’s found himself suddenly bumped up to detective–brings these “lowly” genre pieces up a notch. It’s fine *craft* being used to explore the poignant humanity of Kobayashi Maru, which is basically the thing we mean when we say “art,” right?
Takeway: Read this. It’s a quick one and worth your time.

(DISCLOSURE Those are indeed Amazon affiliate links to the book; if you click on them and buy it, I’ll get some minuscule percentage. Also, the book itself was a gift from my mom; all of these factors may have swayed my opinion. I’m only human.)