When Ben H. Winters won a 2013 Edgar for The Last Policeman, it came as no surprise to me. The book was brilliant. Now Detective Hank Palace is back in Countdown City. The Earth is still doomed (we learned in The Last Policeman that a large asteroid will obliterate it in 77 days), but unlike most of the world’s populace, Palace isn’t working his way through a bucket list or planning his suicide: he’s solving crimes. He’s on his own, though. Policemen are human, and the cop shop where he used to work is pretty much deserted. Still, when a distraught woman begs the now-unemployed Palace to find her missing husband, a former state trooper, Palace sets off on what even he admits is probably a hopeless quest. Along the way, he reconnects with his disturbed sister Nico, a member of a mysterious cult that believes the coming apocalypse could be avoided, but that for some reason, the government is keeping that information from the public. In the meantime, goods and services are collapsing, so Palace and his dog Houdini must bicycle their way through black markets and rioting mobs, looking for the missing trooper. One of the major lures of the Palace novels (a third is planned) is the ex-policeman’s determined decency amidst all the ugliness he encounters. Not only does he continue to do his job—without a paycheck—he takes time out to comfort the sick and care for orphans. Palace isn’t an Everyman; he’s an exceptional man, a man who, whatever the odds, gets the job done even as the world falls apart. This is why, regardless of the dire situation the Earth finds itself in, the Palace trilogy is an uplifting read. These books aren’t really about the End of the World: they’re about the indestructible human spirit.