Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller

Darktown by Thomas Mullen

I was drawn to this novel not only for its content but also because of the praise it was garnering from the literary community. I like to keep an eye out for books that receive acclaim, even if I don’t always find myself enjoying those novels. I do this because it gets me out of my comfort zone of thrillers or fantasy fiction. This story was definitely out of the ordinary for me but it was a riveting tale and I am glad I took the chance to read it!

A political move results in the Atlanta police department’s hiring of its first black officers in 1948. Just because they have been hired doesn’t mean they are accepted; the new policemen are met with deep hostility by their white counterparts and their authority is limited. They aren’t allowed to wear their uniforms when entering the court house, they aren’t allowed to drive a squad car or be a part of any investigation, and they can’t even use the police headquarters as their base. When a black woman who was last seen in a car with a white man turns up dead, no one cares except Boggs and Smith, two black cops. With pressure from all sides, they decide to risk their jobs and their safety to investigate into her death.

A fantastic novel, and my only regret is not having read it sooner! It was a compelling book that accurately portrays the tension between the white and black communities in Atlanta. While the novel uses the murder to further the plot, the story delves deep into the racist culture during this time period. I absolutely loved the writing style employed here; I could feel every emotion described in the book. This is a dark, gripping novel that leaves no stone unturned as it follows the secret investigation of Boggs and Smith. I’ve read many mysteries and thrillers, many crime fiction stories, but this one was a whole new experience. Beautifully written and thought-provoking, I look forward to reading more by this author. This is a novel you don’t want to miss out on.

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