As the world’s inevitable demise draws near, a former cop refuses to shirk what he takes to be his moral responsibilities.
Impelled by an inner sense of duty, former Concord police detective Hank Palace starts on a mission to find missing Brett Cavatone when his wife, Hank’s former baby sitter, begs him to take the case. As Hank measures the remaining 77 days before asteroid Maia hits, in servings of dog food for his bichon frisé Houdini, he’s a man on a mission that, even if successful, may be altogether meaningless. But he has no purpose greater than going through the professional and ethical motions. His stoicism stands in stark contrast with the activism of his sister Nico, who, with her revolutionary friends, is convinced there’s a government conspiracy to be found out. Hank must blend in with Nico’s world if he’s to have any hope of learning what happened to Brett, who’s a bit more unpredictable than his wife has led Hank to believe. Even if rumors of a government conspiracy aren’t true, civilization is abuzz with secret factions and alliances Hank must understand in order to find out the truth before the clock runs down.
Some of the melancholy charm of the first in this series (The Last Policeman, 2012) is dissipated, for Hank solves a less inventive mystery set against, rather than fully integrated into, a hopeless backdrop.