Doomsday minus 14 days. The world is going to end, the asteroid 2011GV1, otherwise known as Maia is going to hit the Earth and then everything will end. And Detective Hank Palace has one last case to solve – he’s going to find his sister Nico.
Nico was last seen with a group of radicals who have a plan to save everything – a nuclear missile that will deflect Maia – and, despite believing that her cause is doomed, he needs to find her before the end. But he’s going to find more than he expects – as the doomsday clock ticks down, Palace finds that he has a brutal murder to solve. But needless to say, the clock is ticking…
First off, go and read The Last Policeman and Countdown City, the first two books in this trilogy. They are outstanding examples of how the crime genre can still produce something fresh and surprising after all these years. Now the story comes to a close… but trilogies can be tricky things.
Toy Story – that’s about the only trilogy that works for me. You could make a case for the Indiana Jones films but they’re just three (OK, four now) films with the same character as the lead. The Lord Of The Rings comes close, but for the infinite epilogues. Scream wasn’t bad, if you want a murder mystery example, and at least there weren’t Ewoks in part three.
I suppose structurally, this trilogy has vaguely resembled the Star Wars structure. Part one stands alone whereas parts two and three, while having individual plots, have an overarching story linking the two books. And what a story.
I’m not going to discuss the plot in any detail, in case it gives away too much about the earlier books. It’s well thought out and although part of the resolution is guessable, that doesn’t detract from a complex plot that is full of surprises.
Ben H Winters continues to provide us with a well-constructed pre-apocalyptic world with everyone dealing with the approach of Maia in different ways, from the re-united lovers with their chicken rations to the closeted Amish community. Palace is struggling to deal with things too, as there are times where you begin to doubt his sanity. At least he looks after the star of the book, Houdini the dog.
I said Toy Story was the only trilogy that really worked for me. Well, now there are two. This is an outstanding novel, a clever mystery, an absorbing adventure and a brilliant end to the story. I simply cannot praise it highly enough. The only reason you could have not to read this book is if you haven’t read the first two. So either a) read this NOW or b) read the entire trilogy NOW. Highly Highly Recommended.
My thanks to Quirk Books for my review copy.