The Last Policeman' Book Review: A Precinct On The Edge Of An Asteroid Apocalypse

  1. Introduction
  2. Background
    1. The Plot
    2. The Theme
    3. The Reception
  3. The Role of Asteroids
    1. A New Twist on an Old Theme
    2. The Science Behind the Fiction
    3. The Relevance Today
  4. Impact on Society
    1. Cultural Significance
    2. The Importance of Fiction
    3. The Value of Preparedness
  5. Frequently Asked Questions
  6. Conclusion
  7. Additional Resources


One of the many ways that asteroids impact society is through their appearance in fiction. The asteroid apocalypse is a popular theme in literature and other forms of media, and it's easy to see why. The idea of a massive space rock hurtling toward Earth, threatening to wipe out all life as we know it, is a compelling one. This article will explore one example of asteroids in fiction, through a review and analysis of "The Last Policeman" by Ben H. Winters.


A chaotic urban landscape, with smoke and debris filling the air, as a large asteroid streaks across the sky

The Plot

"The Last Policeman" is the first novel in a trilogy by Ben H. Winters. It follows the story of a police detective, Hank Palace, as he investigates a murder in a small New Hampshire town. But there's a twist: the world is about to end. An asteroid is hurtling toward Earth, and in less than six months, everything will be destroyed. Despite this impending doom, Palace remains dedicated to his job, determined to solve the murder before the end of the world.

The Theme

The novel explores themes of mortality and purpose in the face of certain death. As the world descends into chaos, people are forced to confront their own mortality and the meaning of their lives. Palace, in particular, struggles to find a reason to keep going in the face of such overwhelming despair.

The Reception

"The Last Policeman" has received widespread critical acclaim since its publication in 2012. It won the Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original and was nominated for the Anthony award for Best Paperback Original and the Macavity Award for Best Mystery Novel. It has also garnered praise from readers, who have praised its unique premise and compelling characters.

The Role of Asteroids

An Earth-shattering destruction: an asteroid crash and debris left behind a desolate, gloomy and worrying sight

A New Twist on an Old Theme

The idea of an asteroid apocalypse is not new to science fiction. However, "The Last Policeman" offers a unique take on the trope by focusing on the human element. Rather than portraying the asteroid as a mere plot device, Winters uses it to explore the deepest fears and desires of his characters.

The Science Behind the Fiction

While "The Last Policeman" is primarily a work of fiction, it is grounded in scientific fact. The threat of an asteroid impact is very real, and there are numerous organizations dedicated to tracking and preparing for such an event. By incorporating these real-world details into his novel, Winters creates a believable scenario for his characters to inhabit.

The Relevance Today

Although "The Last Policeman" was published nearly a decade ago, its themes are still relevant today. In the midst of a global pandemic and widespread social unrest, many people are grappling with questions of mortality and purpose. "The Last Policeman" offers a poignant reminder that, in the face of overwhelming despair, it is still possible to find meaning and purpose.

Impact on Society

A catastrophic asteroid impacts a city skyline, causing buildings to crumble and leaving smoke and debris in its wake

Cultural Significance

"The Last Policeman" has had a significant impact on popular culture since its publication. It has inspired a number of spin-off works, including a radio play and a role-playing game. It has also been compared to other works of apocalyptic fiction, such as Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" and Nevil Shute's "On the Beach."

The Importance of Fiction

While it's important to take the threat of asteroid impacts seriously, it's also important to recognize the role that fiction plays in shaping our understanding of the world. By exploring the human element of a scientific concept, works like "The Last Policeman" help us to better understand our own fears and desires.

The Value of Preparedness

Although "The Last Policeman" is ultimately a work of fiction, it has important lessons to teach about preparedness. In a world where natural disasters and other crises are becoming increasingly common, it's important to be prepared for the worst. By learning from the characters in the novel, we can better prepare ourselves for whatever challenges life may throw our way.

Frequently Asked Questions

An abandoned, tarnished police car rests amidst a desolate cityscape
  • What is "The Last Policeman"?

    "The Last Policeman" is a novel by Ben H. Winters that explores the impact of an asteroid apocalypse on society.

  • What themes does "The Last Policeman" explore?

    "The Last Policeman" explores themes of mortality and purpose in the face of certain death.

  • Is "The Last Policeman" realistic?

    While it is primarily a work of fiction, "The Last Policeman" is grounded in scientific fact and offers a believable scenario for its characters to inhabit.

  • What impact has "The Last Policeman" had on society?

    "The Last Policeman" has inspired a number of spin-off works and has had a significant impact on popular culture since its publication.

  • What lessons can we learn from "The Last Policeman"?

    "The Last Policeman" teaches us important lessons about preparedness and the importance of finding meaning and purpose in the face of overwhelming despair.


"The Last Policeman" is a powerful exploration of the human element of an asteroid apocalypse. By combining scientific fact with compelling characters and a unique premise, Ben H. Winters has created a work of fiction that resonates with readers to this day. Whether you're interested in the science behind the story or simply looking for a thought-provoking read, "The Last Policeman" is well worth your time.

We hope this review has provided valuable insight into the intersection of asteroids and fiction. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section and subscribe to for more informative content.

Additional Resources

An illustration of the Earth in space, with an impending asteroid collision blocking out the sun and plunging the world into darkness

If you're interested in learning more about asteroids in fiction, we recommend checking out the following resources:

If you want to discover more articles similar to The Last Policeman' Book Review: A Precinct On The Edge Of An Asteroid Apocalypse, you can visit the Asteroids in Fiction category.

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