Bedbugs by Ben H. Winters
Long ago, I won the second book in Ben H. Winter’s Last Policeman trilogy. I had not read the first one, don’t usually get involved in series, and don’t have much taste for apocalypse literature. But I’d heard from readers I trust that The Last Policeman was pretty good. And it was! Hank Palace, the titular last policeman, quickly became one of my favorite characters ever. Eventually, I was pretty bummed that there are only three books and no much chance of sequels, because, well, apocalypse. I promised myself that I’d visit more of Winters’ works. Fast forward to 2020 and Cathy @ 746 Books mentioning Bedbugs.
The strength of Winters’ writing is his relatable characters. While I am not a mother or as upwardly mobile as Susan, our protagonist, I could relate to her anxieties. She’s trying to be an artist while her husband works, often feels guilty for getting her way, and is occasionally overwhelmed by the emotional labor of being a wife. Both of Susan and I are more neurotic than we’d like to admit. For me, Susan is a character fairly grounded in reality.
So, when the world around her starts to skew, I was with her, wondering what the heck was going on. Alas, Winters doesn’t quite stick the landing here. Things get weird, and then sort of mundane, but also maybe still weird. Are there bedbugs? Or just badbugs? I have other questions that I will avoid asking for the sake of spoilers. Still, this was a creepy, unsettling tale. I’m glad Phoenix rates as #45 of Orkin’s Top Bedbug Cities.