Sunday, August 4, 2013

"Countdown City"

Ben H. Winters's novels include The Last Policeman, which was the recipient of the 2012 Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America; it was also named one of the Best Books of 2012 by and Slate. Winters’s other books include the New York Times bestselling parody novel Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and a novel for young readers, The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman, which was a Bank Street Best Children’s Book of 2011 as well as an Edgar Nominee in the juvenile category.

Winters applied the Page 69 Test to Countdown City, the second book in the Last Policeman trilogy, and reported the following:
Page 69 of Countdown City gives a good sense of the novel in terms of the protagonist, and the setting—great, actually on setting—but it’s not so great for story.

On the top half of the page, my hero Detective Palace (who is trying, against very tall odds, to find a missing person, in a pre-apocalyptic world where many-if-not-most people have gone missing in one way or another), butts heads with a wiry thug standing guard over a “rummage,” one of the desperate bazaars where people have come to barter and swap what goods and food they’ve got left.
Now this one looks me up and down: my suit jacket, my policeman’s shoes. He stinks of early-day beer and some kind of oily hair product.

“Good morning,” I say.

“You finding everything okay?” His voice is gravelly, deadpan. I get the message.“Come on boy,” I say to my dog.“Time to go.”
You get the picture there, I think, of my lonely, dogged policeman, the odd man out in a world no longer particularly interested in law enforcement, just as a concept. Then there’s a section break, after which you get a nice taste of the world Palace is operating in: Concord, New Hampshire, with 77 days until the asteroid hits.
...I get off the bike in the heart of downtown and just take a long slow turn around the deserted sprawl of Main Street: crushed glass, broken shop windows, a couple of drunk teenagers on top of each other on a bench. It’s a ghost town. It’s one of those Western cowboy outposts they used to keep preserved as a living museum: Here there used to be a bookstore. Once upon a time, this was a gift shop. Long, long ago, that was a Citgo station.
One working title for this book was Disasterland, and here we see why.
Learn more about the book and author at the official Ben H. Winters website.

My Book, The Movie: The Last Policeman.

The Page 69 Test: The Last Policeman.

--Marshal Zeringue