"A haunting and thought provoking novel"
Detective Inspector Herbie Watkins of Scotland Yard is
called in to investigate the death of a young woman who
murdered in her apartment. The case is difficult, but
Watkins, a plodding yet successful detective, moves ahead.
Meanwhile, world scientists announce that the universe is
coming to an end. The expanding universe has finally
reached its end, and its retreat into nothingness will
take a week to complete. (Think of the universe as a
rubber band pulled to its longest length then released.
The rebound is much faster than the expansion.) Chaos
erupts as humankind tries to come to grips with its own
Watkins-- a happily married, middle-aged man-- decides to
spend his last days trying to discover who murdered this
young woman and to render his own justice. No longer
having the resources of the Yard or a partner, he
investigates on his own. He spends his evenings with his
wife and on the phone with his daughter as he comes to
grips with the end of everything.
Sam Smith creates a chilling image of humankind at its
extinction but also a comforting one as some react with
compassion and courage while others retreat into
mayhem. One flaw I find is his treatment of religious
people--most decide that their beliefs are a lie and
retreat into chaos. Christians, for example, with their
emphasis on the Apocalypse, would do the exact opposite.
The narrative is dialogue-driven, and Herbie is an
analytical thinker with few intense emotions so the
disaster isn't all consuming for him or the reader, and
puzzle of whodunit is often foremost, but his moments with
his wife and daughter are deeply emotional and tender.
This novel has haunted me for almost three years, and I
still get a cold hard knot in my stomach whenever I
consider the possibility of human annihilation and the
frightful and yet comforting vision of how we would behave
if we only had a week left.
Reviewed for PNR Reviews by
Marilynn Byerly, Author
Reviewed by PNR Group Member
Posted February 20, 2003