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If you are looking for a thrilling audiobook to keep you on the edge of your seat, you might want to check out “The Last Policeman” by Ben H. Winters. This dystopian mystery novel is a compelling story about an impending asteroid impact that is set to wipe out civilization, and how one detective, Hank Palace, sets out to solve one last case before the end of the world. In this audiobook review, we will delve into the unique world created by Ben H. Winters and consider the various aspects of this gripping novel.

Key Takeaways

  • Ben H. Winters’ “The Last Policeman” is a thrilling dystopian mystery novel that revolves around an impending asteroid impact that could wipe out civilization.
  • The focus of the novel is on one detective, Hank Palace, as he tries to solve one last case before the end of the world.
  • The novel’s unique blend of mystery and dystopian elements creates an atmospheric setting that keeps readers engaged.
  • The audiobook version of “The Last Policeman” is of high-quality and enhances the overall experience of the story.
  • The societal collapse and human nature are some of the significant themes that the book addresses.

About the Author, Ben H. Winters

Ben H. Winters is a critically acclaimed author known for his gripping and thought-provoking works of fiction. With a background in journalism and theater as well as a Master of Fine Arts from Brandeis University, Winters brings a unique perspective to his writing.

He is the author of several novels, including the award-winning “The Last Policeman” trilogy, as well as “Underground Airlines” and “Golden State.” His writing has been compared to that of literary giants such as George Orwell and Kurt Vonnegut, and he has received numerous accolades for his work, including an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America and a Philip K. Dick award.

Winters’ work often explores the themes of societal collapse, dystopia, and the human condition, and his writing style is known for its intelligent and thought-provoking nature. He currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife and children.

Summary of “The Last Policeman”

Set in a world where Earth is destined to be destroyed by an asteroid impact within six months, “The Last Policeman” by Ben H. Winters follows Detective Hank Palace as he investigates a suspected suicide that may be connected to a larger conspiracy. As Palace races against time to solve the case, he grapples with the morality of enforcing the law in a world that is rapidly descending into chaos.

The novel explores themes of mortality, human nature, and societal collapse through the unique lens of a police procedural. With its thought-provoking premise and well-drawn characters, “The Last Policeman” is a gripping read that will keep audiences engaged until its poignant conclusion.

Setting and Atmosphere

The world of “The Last Policeman” is a unique blend of mystery and dystopian elements, where a palpable sense of doom permeates the air. The story takes place in a small New England town that is struggling to survive as an asteroid hurtles towards Earth, with the impending threat of annihilation constantly looming in the background. The eerie atmosphere of the town is enhanced by the author’s attention to detail, with vivid descriptions of abandoned streets, crumbling buildings, and the chaotic aftermath of a collapsing society.

The sense of isolation and impending doom is heightened by the fact that society is breaking down, leaving the citizens of the town to fend for themselves. The lack of a functioning government and the scarcity of resources add to the already tense situation, leaving many residents feeling abandoned and hopeless. The dark and foreboding setting underscores the gravity of the situation, and readers are drawn into the desperation and despair of the characters as they struggle to make sense of their situation.

Despite the bleakness of the setting, there is also a sense of hope and resilience that runs through the story. The protagonist, Detective Hank Palace, is determined to maintain law and order and to solve a murder case even as the world around him falls apart. His unwavering dedication to his job and his determination to do the right thing provide a glimmer of hope in an otherwise dark and gloomy world.

“The setting of ‘The Last Policeman’ is unlike anything else I’ve ever read. It’s a unique blend of noir and dystopian elements that creates a truly unforgettable atmosphere.” – Book Reviewer

Protagonist and Supporting Characters

“The Last Policeman” by Ben H. Winters features a cast of engaging and multi-dimensional characters that bring the story to life. At the heart of the narrative is the protagonist, Detective Hank Palace, who remains committed to his duty even in the face of a looming apocalypse. Palace is a complex character, portrayed with nuance and depth, as he grapples with his own mortality and the challenges of maintaining order in a collapsing society.

Supporting characters include, among others, Nico, Palace’s teenage sidekick, who offers a youthful perspective and an unexpected bravery in the face of danger. Meanwhile, his sister, Nico, adds emotional stakes to the story as she struggles with her own demons.

“Each of the characters in “The Last Policeman” is well-drawn and memorable, playing a significant role in the overall narrative.”

Winters’ skillful characterization makes every character an integral part of the story, and their development and interactions with one another create a compelling and intricate web of relationships that keeps readers invested until the very end.

Writing Style and Narrative

Ben H. Winters’ writing style in “The Last Policeman” is polished, precise, and concise. His careful attention to detail is evident in the richly described settings and characters, which enhances the immersive experience of reading or listening to the book. The narrative is told from the perspective of the protagonist, Detective Hank Palace, and is characterized by a measured pace that allows the story to unfold in a natural and satisfying way.

The tone of the book is somber, reflecting the apocalyptic backdrop of the narrative. However, there are moments of wry humor and irony that provide much-needed levity. The gradual escalation of tension and sense of impending doom is expertly handled, keeping the reader engaged and invested in the outcome of the story.

The book’s style and narrative are highly effective in immersing the reader in the story’s world, eliciting emotional responses and inviting deeper reflection on the themes explored throughout the book.

“Ben H. Winters’ masterful combination of intricate prose and thoughtful storytelling in “The Last Policeman” creates an unforgettable reading experience.”

Plot Development

The plot in “The Last Policeman” is a slow-burn, but the gradual unfolding of events keeps readers engaged from start to finish. The story follows Detective Hank Palace, who refuses to give up on his job, despite the impending asteroid impact that will likely end all life on earth.

The plot development in the novel is meticulously crafted, with each chapter gradually building towards the ultimate conclusion. The primary focus of the story is not the investigation of a crime in the traditional sense, but rather the emotional and psychological impact of impending disaster on the characters.

This approach allows the author to explore the themes of mortality, human nature and societal collapse in a manner that feels genuine and thought-provoking.

Plot Development

“This is a mystery that isn’t quite like any other, which isn’t to say it’s without precedents … But the book’s real power comes from the way it takes emotional possession of the reader.” -Wall Street Journal

Themes Explored

“The Last Policeman” explores various thought-provoking themes that resonate with readers long after finishing the book. The story grapples with weighty topics such as mortality, human nature, and societal collapse. Winters adeptly weaves these themes into the narrative, creating a compelling and well-rounded story that engages readers on multiple levels.

The theme of mortality is particularly prominent in the story, as the impending asteroid impact means that all life on earth will soon come to an end. The novel considers a range of issues related to our mortality, including how we relate to death, how we choose to live our lives, and how we can find meaning and purpose in the face of tragedy.

“We don’t all have to kill ourselves,” he said. “We could just go on. Until we can’t.” – Ben H. Winters, The Last Policeman

Another theme that the book explores is human nature and how people react to crisis situations. The characters in “The Last Policeman” respond in a variety of ways to the impending disaster, ranging from nihilistic acceptance to desperate attempts at survival. Through the actions and words of the characters, the novel provides insight into the complexity of human emotions and motivations, even in the face of imminent doom.

The novel also explores themes related to societal collapse, examining how institutions and social norms break down as the asteroid draws closer. The breakdown of law and order forms a key part of the story, as pre-apocalyptic police procedures and criminal justice systems become increasingly irrelevant. This aspect of the narrative provides a sobering commentary on how fragile our society can be, and how we rely on seemingly stable structures until they are no longer present.

Overall, “The Last Policeman” is a thought-provoking read that explores themes of mortality, human nature, and societal collapse in a unique and compelling way. These themes are woven throughout the narrative to create a multi-layered story that engages readers on multiple levels.

Audiobook Performance and Narration

The audiobook version of “The Last Policeman” is a testament to the outstanding performance of narrator Peter Berkrot. His exceptional narration skills elevate the listening experience, bringing the story to life with his nuanced voice acting and impeccable timing.

Berkrot’s commitment to each character’s unique personality and emotions is unparalleled, allowing listeners to connect with each character on a deeper level. For example, during scenes of high tension or action, Berkrot’s performance enhances the suspense and keeps listeners engaged.

Overall, Berkrot’s masterful narration adds a new layer of depth and richness to the audiobook version of “The Last Policeman.”

Audience Reception

Since its release, “The Last Policeman” has garnered significant attention from both readers and critics alike. Overall, the audience reception has been largely positive, with many praising the unique premise and intriguing blend of mystery and dystopian elements.

On various review platforms, such as Goodreads and Amazon, readers have given “The Last Policeman” an average rating of 4 out of 5 stars. Many reviewers appreciated the well-drawn characters and the thought-provoking exploration of existential themes.

“Winters’ writing is tight and efficient, with a keen understanding of human behavior during times of crisis, and this book is a real page-turner.”

However, some critics found fault with the pacing of the story or the conclusion, which they felt did not live up to the promise of the premise. Despite a few negative reviews, the majority of readers were hooked by the story through its satisfying conclusion.

Overall, “The Last Policeman” has received widespread acclaim for its fresh take on the genre of dystopian fiction, portraying the end of the world as a backdrop to a compelling murder mystery. Its unique blend of genres offers something for every reader looking for a fresh, creative, and thought-provoking book.

Comparison to Other Works by Ben H. Winters

Ben H. Winters is a prolific author whose works span several genres, including science fiction, mystery, and young adult fiction. While “The Last Policeman” stands out as a unique blend of dystopian and detective fiction, it bears comparison to Winters’ other notable works.

Novel Genre Similarities Differences
The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman Youth mystery Engaging, fast-paced storytelling Geared towards a younger audience
The Last Policeman Trilogy Dystopian mystery Unique exploration of themes of morality, existence, and societal collapse Lack of conventional resolution and closure
Golden State Dystopian fiction Compelling premise exploring the implications of a society governed by truth Less emphasis on mystery and suspense

“The Last Policeman” differs from Winters’ other works in its unique blend of the mystery and dystopian genres. However, all of his novels share a talent for exploring thought-provoking themes and tackle societal and existential questions in an engaging and compelling way.

Despite these differences, it’s clear that Winters has a distinct style and approach when it comes to his writing. Fans of “The Last Policeman” will undoubtedly find much to love in his other works, and those new to the author may find his other books to be worth exploring.

Impact and Significance

Since its release, “The Last Policeman” has left a lasting impact on readers and critics alike, cementing its significance in the genre of dystopian fiction. The novel presents a unique approach to the genre, combining elements of mystery with a looming catastrophic event that ultimately transforms society as we know it.

By exploring the resilience of human nature, Ben H. Winters provides a profound commentary on the power of hope and the importance of living life to the fullest in the face of adversity. As the world-building and character development progresses, the suspenseful plot gradually builds to an unforgettable climax, leaving a lasting impression on all who read or listen to the audiobook version.

Impact Significance
The book won an Edgar award for Best Paperback Original in 2013, solidifying its place in literary history. “The Last Policeman” challenges traditional conventions of dystopian fiction, presenting a uniquely human perspective on the apocalypse that is both poignant and thought-provoking.
The novel has since garnered a loyal following among fans of the genre, and has been translated into multiple languages. The exploration of mortality and the human condition as it pertains to the end of the world is a profound and timeless message that resonates with readers to this day.

The impact and significance of “The Last Policeman” cannot be overstated, and it continues to inspire and captivate readers around the world.

Recommendations and Final Thoughts

For readers who enjoy a blend of mystery and dystopian fiction, The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters is a must-read. The unique premise of a police procedural set against the backdrop of an impending asteroid impact provides a fresh and engaging take on both genres.

Overall, the audiobook version of The Last Policeman is well worth a listen, featuring excellent narration by Peter Berkrot that enhances the story’s suspenseful atmosphere. The plot and characters are expertly developed, with each chapter building towards a satisfying conclusion that will leave readers eager for more.

If you’re looking for a thought-provoking read that will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish, I highly recommend giving The Last Policeman a chance.

“The world will keep moving, even if you have to adjust what you’re moving with.”


Overall, “The Last Policeman” by Ben H. Winters is a gripping and thought-provoking audiobook that combines elements of mystery and dystopian fiction to create a unique and memorable story. The atmospheric setting and well-crafted characters draw readers in, while the engaging plot keeps them invested until the very end.

Winters’ writing style is effective in conveying the tone and pacing of the story, and the narration in the audiobook version is top-notch, bringing the characters to life. The themes explored in the book are timely and relevant, making it a worthwhile read for anyone interested in exploring the human condition in times of crisis.

While some readers may find the pacing slow at times, the overall impact and significance of the book cannot be denied. For fans of dystopian fiction and well-crafted mysteries, “The Last Policeman” comes highly recommended.

Final thoughts: With its unique premise, engaging characters, and expertly crafted plot, “The Last Policeman” is a must-read for fans of the dystopian genre. Winters’ writing is both timely and thought-provoking, and the audiobook narration is top-notch. Highly recommended!


What is "The Last Policeman" about?

“The Last Policeman” is a novel by Ben H. Winters that presents a gripping blend of mystery and dystopian fiction. The story follows Detective Hank Palace as he investigates a suspicious suicide against the backdrop of an impending asteroid impact that threatens to destroy Earth.

Who is the author of "The Last Policeman"?

“The Last Policeman” is written by Ben H. Winters, an accomplished author known for his literary contributions in various genres. Besides “The Last Policeman,” he has authored other notable works, including the highly acclaimed “Underground Airlines” and the award-winning “The Mystery of the Missing Everything.”

What is the setting and atmosphere of "The Last Policeman" like?

“The Last Policeman” is set in a unique and atmospheric world where humanity’s impending doom hangs over every interaction. The story takes place in a pre-apocalyptic United States, where the sense of impending disaster brings a palpable tension and uncertainty to the narrative.

Who are the main characters in "The Last Policeman"?

The protagonist of “The Last Policeman” is Detective Hank Palace, a diligent and dedicated investigator who persists in solving crimes despite the impending apocalypse. Alongside Palace, readers are introduced to a cast of supporting characters, each with their own complexities and contributions to the overall storyline.

What is the writing style like in "The Last Policeman"?

In “The Last Policeman,” Ben H. Winters employs a compelling writing style that captures the essence of the story’s tense and atmospheric setting. The narrative is thought-provoking, seamlessly blending elements of mystery and dystopian fiction, while also providing poignant insights into human nature and societal collapse.

How does the plot develop in "The Last Policeman"?

The plot of “The Last Policeman” unfolds gradually, combining elements of a traditional detective story with the impending catastrophe looming over society. As Detective Hank Palace delves deeper into his investigation, unexpected twists and turns emerge, representing the complexity of human behavior amidst a crumbling world.

What themes are explored in "The Last Policeman"?

“The Last Policeman” explores various profound themes, including mortality, human nature, and societal collapse. Through the lens of Detective Hank Palace’s investigation, the novel raises thought-provoking questions about the value of life, the pursuit of justice, and the choices individuals make when faced with impending doom.

How is the audiobook performance and narration in "The Last Policeman"?

The audiobook version of “The Last Policeman” offers an immersive listening experience, thanks to the remarkable performance by the narrator. The narrator skillfully brings the characters to life, capturing the tension, emotions, and nuances of the story, enhancing the overall enjoyment of the audiobook.

How has "The Last Policeman" been received by audiences?

“The Last Policeman” has garnered positive reviews from both readers and critics alike. Its unique blend of genres and thought-provoking narrative has captivated audiences, earning praise for its characterization, atmospheric setting, and its ability to prompt reflection on the human condition in the face of impending catastrophe.

How does "The Last Policeman" compare to other works by Ben H. Winters?

“The Last Policeman” stands out among the works of Ben H. Winters due to its distinctive blend of mystery and dystopian fiction. While it shares some thematic similarities with Winters’ other works, such as societal collapse and human nature, “The Last Policeman” explores these themes within a unique pre-apocalyptic context.

What impact does "The Last Policeman" have?

“The Last Policeman” has made a significant impact on readers and the genre of dystopian fiction. Its exploration of existential questions, its atmospheric setting, and its memorable characters contribute to the novel’s lasting significance, representing a thought-provoking addition to the dystopian literary landscape.

Any recommendations for readers interested in "The Last Policeman"?

For readers who enjoy thought-provoking mysteries with a dystopian twist, “The Last Policeman” is highly recommended. The novel offers a unique and engrossing reading experience that will captivate those intrigued by the blend of atmospheric setting, compelling characters, and existential themes.

Are there any final thoughts on "The Last Policeman"?

“The Last Policeman” is a must-read for fans of both mystery and dystopian fiction. Ben H. Winters masterfully combines both genres to craft a captivating and thought-provoking narrative. With its immersive setting, compelling characters, and exploration of profound themes, “The Last Policeman” is a literary gem that should not be missed.

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