TITLE: The Last Policeman
AUTHOR: Ben H. Winters
The premise of this first book in a trilogy is killer. A giant asteroid is on a collision course with Earth. Suicides are up. So why does newly-minted police detective Henry Palace think an obvious "hanger," an insurance investigator found with a belt around his neck secured to the grab bar in a bathroom stall in a MacDonald's, is really a murder victim, especially when no one cares.
With six months until impact -- the exact location is still unknown -- Henry throws himself into the perceived mystery while everyone around him reacts to the impending doom. The things we currently depend on and take for granted -- cell phone service, the internet, etc. -- start to fail because people are killing themselves or quitting their jobs to spend their last days enjoying the time they have left.
Winters has fashioned an old-fashioned mystery as well as an exploration of the human psyche and the meaning of life. Henry's dogged pursuit of truth, of the why as well as the what and how, makes for compelling reading. Throw in some personal drama that Henry has to deal with, involving his flaky younger sister, and you get a very accessible work of near-future science fiction. I can't wait to start book two.