You can't really blame publishers for encouraging genre authors to develop their book ideas into trilogies and multipart series. There's less financial risk in publishing part four of a successful fantasy series than launching a whole new book by the author of a single successful fantasy novel. But for readers who like books to have, you know, endings, it gets wearying. Had I known Ben H. Winters's debut novel, The Last Policeman, was the first book in a trilogy, I probably never would've read it. Now that I've read the end of the series, World of Trouble, I realize that would have been a huge mistake.

The Last Policeman was a complete novel that stood perfectly well on its own. It established the world of New Hampshire detective Hank Palace, a pleasant and competent man trying to solve a murder on a planet drained of all ambition. An enormous asteroid is heading straight for Earth, and there's no way to avert the apocalypse it will bring. People stop showing up for work, they skip out on their boring lives, they stop caring about rules. It's the perfect setting for a detective novel, because even a detective as determined as Palace—one of the last few cops to stay on duty—would face plenty of unusual obstacles in his search for a missing person.

I was disheartened to learn about the existence of Countdown City, a second novel in what was now referred to as the Last Policeman Trilogy, but I read it anyway...

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