To those who are unaware of the Jim Crow era - this is history clothed in a 'fictional' novel. It is an exceptionally vivid window into the lives of Negros, particularly in the Southern States. Can one truly believe these strongly-held prejudices have gone from everyday life? I personally doubt it.
This is the type of story that will make everyone's blood boil, stomach turn, and heart ache. Not because this is a thriller and it's gruesome, but because of the things the reader learns about Atlanta (or just the south period) pre-Civil Rights. I get angry and disgusted just thinking about the way black people were treated, and the amount of corruption that there was in the police department. These first black police officers weren't even allowed to arrest anyone, nor were they given squad cars; they couldn't even walk into the "white" police department in uniform. I won't go into too much more detail, because I think everyone should read this novel. Yes, it's technically historical fiction, but I'm positive that Mullen did not take liberties with his descriptions.
I was Interested in reading this book mainly because I enjoy historical fiction but I did not expect it to be as good as it was. It is a easy read but the book was hard to put down. It seemed like the author had done a lot of research and the scene he painted rang very true, very disturbing but true. The historical part is not even that long ago which made it more disturbing, especially considering the climate in the world today. An excellent book which I believe is the start of a trilogy, can't wait for the sequel!
This book was so unbelievably intense that I had to take breaks while reading it. It was pretty hard to read at times, so much so that I thought about giving up at the beginning. However, thanks to a trusted friend's review of the book, I decided to keep going. I'm not going to lie: this is an emotionally exhausting book that made me very uncomfortable at times but I am so glad that I stuck with it. A taut, unputdownable mystery that does not pull any punches with a very difficult topic. I'm still catching my breath...
DARKTOWN can be hard at the start. The treatment of Black police officers is deplorable. The description of the times can be hard to take. But once you get pass the opening to the actual crime - turns pretty good. Definitely worth considering the next book in the series.
Set in 1948 Atlanta, this atmospheric police procedural delivers not only a well-constructed murder mystery but also a thoughtful look at the brutal realities of the Jim Crow South.
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It’s 1948 and the Atlanta police department has been pressed to hire its first African American police officers. They wear the uniform and do their best to uphold the laws, but they have no authority. They cannot arrest anyone Caucasian, they are met with constant hostility and are not even allowed at police headquarters. Boggs and Smith, two newly minted African American officers, work “Darktown”, a predominately African American neighborhood. When they find a badly beaten back woman in the trash behind an old building, they realize she looks familiar. They last saw her driving with a white man, an ex-cop. As they fight to solve her murder, tensions build as Boggs and Smith risk everything, including their own lives, in the name of justice.
Darktown, by Thomas Mullen, is a novel that will stay with you long after you have completed reading it. Written as a twist on a police procedural, this historical thriller takes readers back to the Deep South as we meet two newly minted African American officers (Boggs and Smith) as they do their best to administer the law in Atlanta. They have no power; yet, they try their best to enforce what they can. When they come across a seemingly intoxicated Caucasian man, running into poles in their jurisdiction (a neighbourhood called Darktown) they go to investigate. He is uncooperative and they see him beating his passenger, a young African American woman. Later, when she turns up dead, Boggs and Smith go against the grain to try and find her killer.
When I first started this book, I was captivated by Mullen’s vivid imagery. He is able to transport the reader right back in time to the south. As I read the first page, I could feel the humidity and smell the summer air. That’s how powerful his writing was. That being said, it was also one of the most difficult things to accept about this novel; I was constantly uncomfortable while reading as I watched the character deal with oppression, blatant racism, corruption, intolerance and racial slurs. I know this was a necessary part of the novel, to set the time and place, but it made me cringe to read.
Mullen’s characterization in this novel was brilliant. I connected immediately with the lead characters and loathed the antagonists. I also loved the character of Rake, a progressive Caucasian officer, who is struggling between what is the “norm” and what is right. It was interesting to add this character to the plot.
Be warned, this book was extremely slow, which is completely different from the fast-paced thrillers I love, but it was so well written, I could not put it down. I feel like if it was any faster paced, it would have taken away from the subject matter.
Apparently, this book will be a T.V series starring Jamie Foxx. I think this will be incredible and can completely see how this would be adapted for the screen.
This novel is gritty and raw, a must read for anyone who enjoys a complex and compelling police procedural. It will be different from any other one you have ever read.
This mystery set in a newly-integrated police force in post WW2 Atlanta is an absolute stunner. Mullen's tale revolves around two sets of cops, one white and one black, but when a young woman is found murdered, their paths collide. Atmospheric and lovingly constructed, this will please fans of Lehane or early James Ellroy.
This one comes out in September and has been described as "In the Heat of the Night" - meets - "The Wire"; get on the holds list for some fascinating crime fiction that exposes racial injustice among a segregated and hostile police department in the Jim Crow south.
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