2017 Book Review

Book Review: Darktown by Thomas Mullen

4.5 ⭐️’s from me27274326

Goodreads Summary: “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.”

My Review

Although fiction, this book draws its inspiration from the appointment of the first African American police officers in Atlanta, Georgia. The depiction of the events in this book seem all too real. The horrific, segregating rules these police officers must follow make their jobs just that much more difficult – making you wonder how they kept motivated at all. Mullen’s characterization of the men’s struggles against oppression causes the reader to feel angry, dismayed and somewhat hopeful for change all at once. This book was apparently drafted before the events of Ferguson here in the U.S. However, it seems incredibly relevant, if not more so, to the racial tensions facing America today. This book would be perfectly paired with the March Trilogy by John Lewis as an educational tool to confront both the past and the present ideas of the Civil Rights Movement.

Not to be forgotten, this book has all the classic elements of a ‘Whodunnit?’ – drawing the reader deep into a compelling mystery, intertwined with a corrupt and racially unequal police force. The pace leaves nothing to be desired – a definite must read.

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