If you’re only going to read one book this year, Read To Succeed’s One Book of Rutherford County program suggests Ben H. Winters’ The Last Policeman. Written in the style of the detective crime novel, the story focuses on Detective Henry Palace, who, despite more than a few distractions around him, keeps moving steadily forward, doing his job, demanding justice in a world gone mad.
The Edgar Award-winning mystery novel opens with Palace called to the scene of an apparent suicide. He arrives at a local McDonald’s to find a man who’s died of asphyxiation. He’s hanging by his own belt from the horizontal grab bar in a handicapped stall.
Everyone, from the officer who first found the deceased to the assistant attorney general, believes it’s an open and shut case of suicide. Another “hanger,” they say. It’s happening all over as humankind faces a collective death sentence.
Winters’ book is pre-apocalyptic. An asteroid is hurtling toward Earth, set to strike in six months. Scientists agree it will be the end of the world. Around the globe, people are responding to the impending hit in various ways. Some leave their jobs and families to fulfill their own personal bucket lists. Some can’t stand the stress and take their own lives. Some turn to God. Others enjoy more earthly pursuits.
Palace is one of the few who just keeps on going, doing his job, despite the pushback from those around him.
The One Book committee spent all summer reading possible book choices until the group finally agreed on The Last Policeman. The committee based the choice on results of a survey in which local readers overwhelmingly said they would like to read a book that featured a male protagonist.
“After reviewing the feedback from a multitude of Rutherford County readers, many people indicated that they would love to have a mystery selected this year,” says One Book Committee Co-Chair Michelle Palmer. “After two previous selections with strong female characters, Henry Palace and The Last Policeman seemed an ideal fit—an award-winning novel starring an honest, hard-working man just trying to do the right thing.”
Winter’s book also deals with some themes that should inspire conversation. After all, what would you do if you knew the world would end in six months?
In the coming months, the One Book committee will announce activities designed to get the discussion started. And the popular One Book Crossing, in which copies of the book are scattered throughout the community for readers to pick up, take home and read before passing along to other readers, will get underway right after the holidays.
“We are very excited about year three of our Book Crossing,” Palmer says. “Stay tuned for more information on locations, contests and other details with this fun program.”
For One Book updates, check with The Read To Succeed website or their Facebook page. Readers are also asked to leave comments on the site after they’ve read the book to share their thoughts about the selection.