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Darktown: A Novel - Thomas Mullen

Author: Thomas Mullen

Rating 4.5 stars


I'm gonna post the book blurb because that is what convinced me to read it. Well that and the amazing reviews this book was getting:


Responding from pressure on high, the Atlanta police department is forced to hire its first black officers in 1948. The newly minted policemen are met with deep hostility by their white peers and their authority is limited: They can’t arrest white suspects; they can’t drive a squad car; they can’t even use the police headquarters and must instead operate out of the basement of a gym.

When a black woman who was last seen in a car driven by a white man turns up fatally beaten, no one seems to care except for Boggs and Smith, two black cops from vastly different backgrounds. Pressured from all sides, they will risk their jobs, the trust the community has put in them, and even their own safety to investigate her death. Their efforts bring them up against an old-school cop, Dunlow, who has long run the neighborhood like his own, and Dunlow’s young partner, Rakestraw, a young progressive who may or may not be willing to make allies across color lines.


First, this was a well done story about racism in pre-civil rights Atlanta. This book does not blunt the edges of racism to make the book palatable- I felt angry, hopeless. Frankly, this was a HARD read at times. But there managed to be just enough hope to keep you invested and not in despair. I liked that the characters are the very definition of grey- complex, all having different motives. 


This was also a great crime novel. I saw the twist coming but getting there was definitely worth sticking around to see if you were right. I was so tense wondering how Boggs and Smith would make it through the next minute alive when they had so much working against them. That added layer of suspense on top of the natural suspense of a crime novel made the book hard to put down. 


Though it's a tough read, I do highly recommend this solidly written crime novel.