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Book Review

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World of Trouble


Author: Ben H. Winters
Publisher: Quirk Books
RRP: £11.99, US $14.95, Cdn $14.95
ISBN: 978 1 59474 685 7
Publication Date: 15 August 2014

What do you do if you know that the world is going to end, when you know the date at which an asteroid will collide with the Earth blotting out the sun? For Detective Hank Palace the answer is simple, continue to do your job and find your lost sister. With only fourteen days left until the end of the world groups of people are dealing with it in different ways. Some have succumbed to anarchy, other have sought out lost loves. Some dig holes in which to hide whereas others prefer a short life of denial...

World of Trouble (2014. 339 Pages) is the last book in Ben H. Winters trilogy of pre-Armageddon novels and follows on from The Last Policeman and its sequel Countdown City.

Set in an America, which has slowly fallen to pieces, Detective Hank Palace traverses a land in decline with his less than honest companion Cortez and his faithful dog, Houdini. In many ways Palace has found his own level of denial as he scrupulously keeps notes and attempts to solve crimes he discovers, even though no one actually cares anymore. Palace cares and it is this which keeps him sane and on track trying to discover where his sister disappeared to when she took off with an unlikely scheme to divert the asteroid and save the world.

The book relies heavily on police procedural storytelling, with Palace trying to get to the truth only to find that sometimes it’s not the truth you want to find. Like most detective novels Winters takes us through the story with Palace and we spend most of our time with him and inside his head. Winters takes his main character down a convoluted, strewn with many side events and twists in the tale, before arriving at the bittersweet ending.

I had not read the first two books in the series, but in no way does this hamper your enjoyment as Palace's mental meanderings act to catch you up, in fact the book works very well as a stand-alone novel. I’m guessing that if I had read the first two I probably wouldn’t have spent so much time thinking that Palace’s obsession with finding his sister in such a vast continent was the epitome of madness. Only slowly do you get to understand that his behaviour is far from mad, but the way he keeps his sanity going.

The pacing is fine for this type of novel, where you don’t so much get action as incidences, and the ending was as near perfect as the reader could hope to wish for. I’ll not spoil the book by answering the big question as to whether or not he finds his sister as many of the events and emotional content are tied into this. As the clues mount up, we too as readers want to know the truth before the end.


Charles Packer

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