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The Last Policeman: Excerpt

The Last Policeman: Excerpt

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Published by Quirk Books
The 2013 Edgar® Award Winner for Best Paperback Original!

What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die? Detective Hank Palace has asked this question ever since asteroid 2011GV1 hovered into view. Several kilometers wide, it’s on a collision course with planet Earth, with just six precious months until impact.

The Last Policeman presents a fascinating portrait of a pre-apocalyptic United States. Industry is grinding to a halt. Most people have abandoned their jobs. But not Hank Palace. As our story opens, he’s investigating the latest suicide in a city that’s full of suicides—only this one feels wrong. This one feels like homicide. And Palace is the only one who cares. What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die?

The Last Policeman offers a story we’ve never read before: A police procedural set on the brink of an apocalypse. What would any of us do, what would we really do, if our days were numbered?

BEN H. WINTERS is a New York Times best-selling author (Quirk’s Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters) and an Edgar Award nominee (for the HarperCollins YA novel The Secret Life of Ms. Finkelman). His most recent novel, Bedbugs (Quirk, 2011), was hailed by Vanity Fair as a “diabolical tale of paranoia.” He lives in Indianapolis, IN.
The 2013 Edgar® Award Winner for Best Paperback Original!

What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die? Detective Hank Palace has asked this question ever since asteroid 2011GV1 hovered into view. Several kilometers wide, it’s on a collision course with planet Earth, with just six precious months until impact.

The Last Policeman presents a fascinating portrait of a pre-apocalyptic United States. Industry is grinding to a halt. Most people have abandoned their jobs. But not Hank Palace. As our story opens, he’s investigating the latest suicide in a city that’s full of suicides—only this one feels wrong. This one feels like homicide. And Palace is the only one who cares. What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die?

The Last Policeman offers a story we’ve never read before: A police procedural set on the brink of an apocalypse. What would any of us do, what would we really do, if our days were numbered?

BEN H. WINTERS is a New York Times best-selling author (Quirk’s Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters) and an Edgar Award nominee (for the HarperCollins YA novel The Secret Life of Ms. Finkelman). His most recent novel, Bedbugs (Quirk, 2011), was hailed by Vanity Fair as a “diabolical tale of paranoia.” He lives in Indianapolis, IN.

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Published by: Quirk Books on Jun 17, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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12/29/2014

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PARTONEHangerTown
Tuesday, March20Rightascension19 02 54.4Declination-34 11 39Elongation78.0Delta3.195 AU
 
1.
I’m staring at the insurance man and he’s staring at me, twocold gray eyes behind old-fashioned tortoiseshell frames, and I’mhaving this awful and inspiring feeling, like holy moly this is real,and I don’t know if I’m ready, I really don’t.I narrow my eyes and I steady myself and I take him in again,shift on my haunches to get a closer look. The eyes and the glasses,the weak chin and the receding hairline, the thin black belt tiedand tightened beneath the chin.This is real. Is it? I don’t know.I take a deep breath, demanding of myself that I focus, blockout everything but the corpse, block out the grimy floors and thetinny rock-and-roll Muzak from the cheap speakers in the ceiling.The smell is killing me, a pervasive and deeply unpleasantodor, like a horse barn that’s been splashed with French-fry grease.There are any number of jobs in this world still being efficientlyand diligently accomplished, but the late-night cleaning of twenty-
 
four-hour fast-food-restaurant bathrooms is not among them. Casein point: the insurance man had been slumped over in here, lodgedbetween the toilet and the dull green wall of the stall, for severalhours before Officer Michelson happened to come in, needing touse the john, and discovered him.Michelson called it in as a 10-54S, of course, which is whatit looks like. One thing I’ve learned in the last few months, onething we’ve all learned, is that suicides-by-hanging rarely end updangling from a light fixture or a roof beam, like in the movies. If they’re serious, and nowadays everybody is serious, would-be sui-cides fasten themselves to a doorknob, or to a coat hook, or, as theinsurance man appears to have done, to a horizontal rail, like thegrab bar in a handicapped stall. And then they just lean forward, lettheir weight do the work, tighten the knot, seal the airway.I angle farther forward, readjust my crouch, trying to find away to share space comfortably with the insurance man withoutfalling or getting my fingerprints all over the scene. I’ve had nineof these in the three and a half months since I became a detective,and still I can’t get used to it, to what death by asphyxiation doesto a person’s face: the eyes staring forward as if in horror, lacedwith thin red spiderwebs of blood; the tongue, rolled out and over to one side; the lips, inflated and purplish at the edges.I close my eyes, rub them with my knuckles, and look again,try to get a sense of what the insurance man’s appearance had beenin life. He wasn’t handsome, that you can see right away. The faceis doughy and the proportions are all just a little off: chin too small,nose too big, the eyes almost beady behind the thick lenses.What it looks like is that the insurance man killed himself 
14THE LAST POLICEMAN

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