A version of this post originally appeared on April 8, 2023.
All I knew of The Last Policeman (2012) was that it got a lot of acclaim. Also I figured it for a crime novel. There is a clue for this hypothesis hidden in the title.
There's an asteroid coming toward the earth, though it's still several months from impact. Society is collapsing in fits and starts. Lots of people are choosing to check themselves out before impact, but the corpse in the McDonald's bathroom stall seems like a murder, and detective Henry Palace is determined to investigate it, even as the structures of law enforcement (like habeas corpus) disintegrate.
I would have enjoyed this book more pre-pandemic, but I no longer need help imagining how people respond to global threat. I'm good.
Still though, this is a decent way to spend your time: Police procedural, society under threat, noirish feel, mild science fiction. I especially recommend it for people who like a literary feel to their genre fiction. Peter Berkrot narrates the audio.
A version of this post originally appeared on January 7, 2023.
Having finished my re-read of Stephen King's collected works of short fiction, I'm catching up on the novels I've missed in recent years, starting with Blaze (2007).
King wrote this under his pseudonym Richard Bachman, partly because the prose style is so different from his normal style, which is conversational, luxuriating in details and subplots. For this noir crime novel, the prose is taut and lean, reminiscent of Jim Thompson (The Killer Inside Me).
Blaze is a likeable, earnest main character with cognitive impairments, due to brain injuries from an abusive father. The violence done to him in childhood by his father, foster parents, and the headmaster of the orphanage explain why he goes on to do violence to others. He doesn't mean to hurt anyone. He just doesn't know any other way.
King, or Bachman rather, was inspired by Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, so if you want an uplifting book maybe try something else.
It's a fine book, not one of King's masterpieces, but recommended for anyone who likes the dark, dirty, gritty subgenre of crime writing.
When Covid first hit, I started doing book talks on social media as a way to keep in touch with people. I never got out of the habit. I don't discuss books by my clients, and if I don't like a book, I won't discuss it at all. While I will sometimes focus on craft or offer gentle critical perspectives, as a matter of professional courtesy, I don't trash writers. Unless they're dead. Then the gloves come off.