Countdown City

countdownCountdown City
by Ben H. Winters
2013 / 320 pages
read by Peter Berkrot 8h 18m
rating:  A- / crime – futurist
(#2 in The Last Policeman series)

“Boomsday” is about 4 1/2 months closer than it was in The Last Policeman #1 – it’s now only 77 days away and counting to the day a stray astroid will hit the earth dead on.

Civilization has kind of fallen apart, at least it’s not fully functional at this point,  stores are empty, crime is rampant.   The  economy has dumped,  and electricity in southern New Hampshire is out because  no one is working at their jobs and leaving town or just committing suicide.

Henry Palace is no longer a detective because the force has been taken over by the state but his friend needs help finding her husband and she calls on him.  So he pulls out the tools of his trade and goes to investigating.  This investigation takes Palace through some strange and frightening situations and plans –  “Danger?  I mean danger doesn’t even …”

Meanwhile,  Palace’s sister, his only family,  is not far away but she’s living with a group who are conspiracy theorists – convinced it’s all a scam like the moon landings and the Kennedy assassination.  They seem to have some kind of commune going.

The problem is that no one knows anything important or refuses to tell,  so everyone is in limbo because of the … um … “the situation”?   “the environmental issue”?  “the problem”?   Oh shoot –  “…the damn astroid,”  as one teenage boy  bluntly puts it.  But maybe some people do know – but not everyone is sane at this point.

And underlying all this are a couple of tension-building threads and whether or not Palace finds the missing man is almost irrelevant compared to the tension of when, in the narrative,  is it going to hit and what’s going to happen then?  What are people choosing to do in this situation,  what would we do?  Can people be kind and decent or does complete degradation take over?