Monday, July 8, 2013

Week one discussion of The Last Policeman























WEEK ONE
THE LAST POLICEMAN
PART ONE-HANGER TOWN


Good morning and welcome to a brand new month and a brand new read. And please welcome a new author Ben H Winters as we read and discuss his Edgar winning and Macavity nominated novel The Last Policeman

As always please use these as a starting point I welcome and encourage your own thoughts and comments too.
So let's get started!!


First thoughts


Hank- your initial opinion of him


Location, location, location- what are your thoughts of suicide differences by area?


What do you think of the analogy to the mood of the people to that of a child not “yet” in trouble?



So tell us what would you be doing at this stage of an inevitable end of the world scenario?






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54 comments:

  1. Will be posting this eve when I get back to the house...so excited to be reading this book!!!
    Karen

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  2. First thoughts:

    My first thoughts about The Last Policeman was that a mix of sci-fi and mystery was an interesting combination. I am not a sci-fi reader so I was glad to find out that it was just a massive asteroid that will collide with earth. A concept that was relatively easy to understand and not overpowering in the abstract sci-fi nature.

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    1. I agree. I'm not much of a sci-fi reader myself and I was pleasantly surprised to learn it was an asteroid that was about to collide with earth. A concept which I found to be very believable.

      -April

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  3. Hank- your initial opinion of him

    My initial opinion of Hank is that I really like him alike. He is very observant and thorough in his investigations and has a strong inclination that this suicide is murder and he will not give up on that notion. I haven't seen any reason why he thinks it is murder and I am anxious to get the facts! It was hard to stop reading after the first part and after I answer these questions, my nose will probably be back into the book.

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    1. Thanks Eadie, I'm glad you get to broaden your horizons with this one. it's always fun to get outside your comfort zone once in a while.

      Here's a little added info Ben will be visiting my town of St Louis this month but unfortunately it falls on my sister's birthday, and it's a milestone birthday 50, so I just have to decide if I want to be in the dog house or I'll have to wait until Ben's next visit which I'm sure will happen because during my research for his interview I learned that he attended college in St Louis.

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    2. Take your sister with you and include a lunch or dinner. lol You've got to try to do both some how!

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    3. Oh Eadie, if only :( alas there is a big party already planned.

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    4. Invite Ben to the party! I've always had an answer for everything. Might not be the right answer but at least I'm thinking!

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    5. Definitely invite Ben to the party. I mean, I'm just finally entering this discussion because I'm giving in to my insomnia, but no one could be better at a party than Ben! Your sister will love him! We all love him, and he reall likes children a lot, too, if there are going to be any around.

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    6. Thanks Ann for the comment and WELCOME to the party.
      Have you read Ben's other novels?
      I look forward to hearing more from you!

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  4. Location, location, location- what are your thoughts of suicide differences by area?

    I think it is interesting that the same method of suicide is happening differently in different locations. Usually you hear about all types, hanging, guns, jumping in front of trains. I'm kind of curious as to why Concord New Hampshire is known as Hanger Town and what causes only hanging or death by asphyxiation to happen there. I also what to know why they are so quick to determine that it's always suicide. I would begin to wonder about 9 suicides in the past 3 months of Hank's becoming a detective.

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    1. Eadie,
      I agree, except that I can also understand that, as the meteor gets closer, the rate of suicide would go up. But I also thought that it was interesting that the story started out with that fact. It gave me pause to wonder.....

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  5. This sounds interesting, off to check it out, have fun everyone!

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  6. What do you think of the analogy to the mood of the people to that of a child not “yet” in trouble?

    I think this analogy is a good one. People are on edge because they are expecting something to happen but they just don't know when it will happen. It doesn't give them much hope for the future and I can understand why people are giving up and retiring from their jobs. In this atmosphere people can become very agitated and angry and I can see how Hank can imagine suicide being murder.

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  7. Personally I got the impression that he was refusing to give in... it seemed like he was determined to go about business as usual.

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    2. Hank doesn't seem bother by the asteroid coming and he is business as usual, I agree but other people are being affected by the pending doom.

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  8. So tell us what would you be doing at this stage of an inevitable end of the world scenario?

    Well, there really isn't much you can do. I think that I would try to read as many of my to-be-read books as possible and travel to all the places that I left on my bucket-list. I'd have to make nice to my enemies so I don't get into too much trouble and end up in the fires of hell. I guess I would just look forward to what comes after this life and hope that it's better than this one!

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    1. I like your attitude about it Eadie. I wondered the first time I read this what I would do and I'm still not sure except for keeping my loved ones as close as possible and hoping for that 11th hour solution.

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  9. I've also started a group on Goodreads-http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/108168-july-discussion-of-the-last-policeman

    I'm thinking of doing this every month too.

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  10. This is just a thought but maybe if you list the question you're answering like Eadie is doing (great idea Eadie) it may be a little easier to follow.
    deb

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  11. Just stopping in to say hello, and thanks everyone for reading — I'm digging the discussion thus far. I will stop by periodically, so if anyone has any specific questions, fire away.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Ben
      as you can see we're having fun :)

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  13. Hmmm, what would I be doing at this point in time? Good question, Deb, and it is actually something I wonder about from time to time. Not in the context of a meteor strike, but - what would I be doing if I only had a set, known number of months to live. And the truth is, I don't know. I'm not the sort of person who would have to fly off and make myself crazy with travel. It exhausts me. I think I would just want to keep doing what I'm doing and be sure to be around my family as much as possible. So I can relate to Hank in that respect, trying to keep some order in his little corner of the universe.

    I really love the way this story is written. I hope this doesn't offend, Ben, but I feel like it's a very straightforward story on the surface, but there's an undercurrent that I think just gets stronger as the story progresses. And it is certainly pulling me into this story.

    Sorry, deleted my comment because I realized later I didn't phrase my question well. I know you discussed some of the motivation for your story in the interview with Deb, but I would be curious to know what inspired the circumstances that are part of your story. Was it really the thought of a meteor strike, or was it something simpler, just wondering what you'd do if you knew how long you had to live? Or something totally unrelated? When I was little and growing up in St. Louis, my grade school class took a trip to the planetarium. At the end of the 'starry sky' presentation, they go through a narrative of people standing on their roofs, watching as a meteor approaches the earth and is about to destroy the planet. I don't know if they would do that presentation today, of course, but your story rings so familiar!
    Elaine

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    1. Wow Elaine, I never saw that Planetarium presentation.
      I don't know if you saw or not but Ben attended Wash U so he's familiar with the area.
      Thanks for your comments

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    2. That presentation was over 45 years ago - have I dated myself yet?? ;-) I have to say that all of us young folk were haunted by it.
      Elaine

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    3. I bet, it would have starred in my nightmares along with all the horror flicks I ever made myself watch

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  14. Yes! And they showed this bright fiery ball getting larger and larger, and the silhouettes of people on their roof, watching its approach. An effective way to get people to stop being so war-mongering!

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    1. Oh Elaine what a thing to make kids watch, what were they thinking?

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    2. Deb, I think the nation was in a nuclear war possibility frenzy, so this was a slightly more subtle way to introduce total disaster. You know, folks were building bomb shelters, etc. Makes for good bedtime reading....not....

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    3. Elaine how could I forget about the cold war period and yes we are dating ourselves :)

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  15. Hi, all -- Elaine, thanks for the question -- I wish I had a smarter answer for where I came up with the idea, exactly. (I've joked elsewhere that good ideas for books are like giant asteroids, you never know when one's going to show up). But really, I think the main motivation had to do with the character: I wanted to write a detective story where the lead character is determined to solve the crime, even though no one else cares. From there I got to the idea of, well, what if REALLY no one cares, and with good reason...hence, the end of the world.

    I DID go to Wash U, but I don't think I ever made it to the planetarium, alas....

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    1. The planetarium is still there Ben although they don't use it quite like they did "back in the day" It's celebrating it's 50th anniversary and it's not too far from your old stomping grounds so maybe you'll have to fit it into one of your visits back to the LOO!! :)

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    2. That's a good answer! And that starting point - what if no one cares about a crime - is the exact question that keeps haunting me in this story. Thanks for the response!

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  16. But it's really the world im a nutshell, isn't it? Most people bumble through, carried BY the throng to complete events or tasks that are responsable and personally important. A few confused souls try to move "ahead." In the Last Policeman, most poeple understand this may be the last chance, and that their strongest needs can be filled -- whatever they may be. Miss the opportunity, and your life, your soul lose all relevance, Hank Palace, however, well, he's either too clueless or tow focused and cool to become involved in that routine. Somehow that low man on the totum pole, the one not worth spending time on, suddenly he's the one who gets it! In the most dire and bizarre of circumstances, He's got figured out how his life has meaning. And if he can do it just by, well, just by soldering on, then the rest of us are clearly be the jerks we always worried we were. Jack can redeem us all, or at least give us a lot of good ideas to talk about.

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    1. Thanks Ann for your thoughts. The first time I read the novel I really didn't know what to make of Hank at first, and I have to be honest clueless did come to mind more than once until I really got to know him better the further along I read. So we'll leave that to later on in the discussion.

      It's so good to have you with us!!!

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  17. The concept of this book is an interesting one. Earth is going to hit by an asteroid and there may not be any survivors. Those that do survive don't know what will be in store for them. I found it intriguing that there were more or less three different types of people when it came to dealing with this situation: the ones going about their daily lives as if nothing has changed, the ones determined to spend their time left on earth doing the things they've always wanted to do and the ones who are not able to cope with knowing the end is near and take their own lives. Throughout this first part I kept trying to imagine which category I would fall into and I honestly think I'd keep on with my daily life and hope by some miracle that the scientists would be wrong and the asteroid would miss earth. And if not, I'd be forced to deal with it then.

    -April

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  18. I really like Hank. He's dedicated to his job and is determined to do everything he can to solve the Peter Zell case. At first I wondered if he was just grasping at straws trying to find something to put his time and energy into with the end so near. But, the more I thought about it, I did find it fishy that Zell allegedly hung himself with such an expensive belt when the rest of his clothes were not so high end. That one clue has led me to believe that Hank is right to suspect that this case is not the "hanger" that everyone else believes it to be.

    -April

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  19. The fact that the same type of method was used for most of the suicides occurring in each area has left me feeling a little suspicious. How many of these suicides could possibly have been murders that were simply overlooked because of the mass quantity of deaths of the same kind in that particular area? I believe that the first couple of deaths could be coincidences and then maybe a couple copycat suicides would take place, but the sheer number of deaths with the same type of method used would leave me with more questions than answers.

    -April

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    1. April, thanks for your comments. I also wondered at the "suicide by area", but I'm not sure.

      How's everything going ?

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    2. Sorry it took me so long to get back to you Deb. It's been busy here and I've been away from my computer for awhile. Everything's going great. I had a doctor's appointment Monday and everything looks good. The baby's measuring right on schedule and the heartbeat's good. Only ten weeks left! It's hard to believe how fast it went so far! I can't wait! :)

      -April

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    3. April no need to apologize Life comes before book clubs :)
      Glad everything is progressing perfectly
      Time does fly :)

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  20. April:

    I agree with everything you wrote. Very nice summation!

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  21. I have to say that I adore Hank. He is one of those men, that despite what's going on around him, he continues to do what he needs to do and what he thinks is right. He has such a strong moral center, one that he sticks to, that I love him for it.

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    1. Hi Ryan, I always love it when you join the conversation and give us that distinctive male voice that we don't see much here.
      Thanks for the comment and yes you're right about Hank's morality based actions.
      looking forward to more of your comments on this read.

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  22. Hey all, great discussion. April's comment made me think; I really did have in mind how people in different geographical areas will start, for example, wearing similar fashions, or being "into" certain kinds of restaurants. It struck me that the same might be so, in such dire times, with methods of suicide. I never intended that to be read as "suspicious," in that way, and I'm intrigued by the notion.

    Thanks, Ryan - I also love Hank. Like all moral people, though, he can be maddening...

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  23. Ben, thanks for jumping in. I didn't think of it as being suspicious either and that's why I love these discussions where so many different minds reading the same book see it so differently in some aspects and the same in others. The phrase no two people ever read the same book really does ring true.

    Now that it's been brought up what's your thought on it?

    Thanks again for chatting with us during our discussion

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  24. Well gang it's almost time for week two.
    Are you ready? :)
    See you tomorrow with new questions

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