Book ‘World of Trouble’ shows the planet before impending destruction

“World of Trouble” by Ben H. Winters; Quirk Books ($14.95, 328 pages)

How would you behave just before the end of the world?

In “World of Trouble,” Detective Hank Palace has only 14 days to live and a mystery to solve: What happened to his younger sister, Nico?

Palace is not the only one with 14 days to live. Everyone on earth has just two weeks to go; an asteroid, 2011GV, or Maia, is going to strike the planet, causing mass devastation.

“Because these auburn midwestern trees are going to burst into flames in the first burning moments. Trees around the world will go up like dry tinder. In a short time the clouds of ash will block the sun, put a hard stop to photosynthesis, snuff out all lushness. … What is about to happen is not the reclaiming of Earth by a triumphant Mother Nature, a karmic repudiation of humanity’s arrogant ill stewardship.”

In the third and last book of Ben H. Winters’s “Last Policeman” trilogy, the ultimate hopes of mankind in their technology and religion to save them from Armageddon are not faring well as the asteroid comes closer and closer.

Survivalists build bunkers, others try to empty their bucket lists and some try to find serenity before destruction.

Winters has done an excellent job of not being depressing in the face of the ultimate end. The story could have been dark and dystopian but it’s the character of Palace that keeps you going. He and his companion, Cortez, are constantly foraging for food and gasoline, running down the abandoned roads and meeting desperate people who want to live but know they are going to die.

Palace will follow the elusive trail of Nico until it runs out or the world ends. Will he succeed? How will he face death? How would you?

Tish Wells, McClatchy Washington Bureau

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