Darktown ~ by Thomas Mullen

Back in 1948, in post-WWII Jim Crow Atlanta, segregation was the name of the game and it’s a huge theme, and an integral part of the plot to this interesting crime novel in which racial tensions (to say nothing of ugliness) play a big role in the police not only in generally getting and keeping their jobs, but in solving crimes even among “their own people.”

by Thomas Mullen
2016 / 345 pages
read by  Andre Holland 11h 14m
rating:  B+ /  historical fiction

Mullen seems to have the history right and created an interesting fictional story to go with it including believable characters and some skillfully built tension, twists, and action.

Responding to public pressure, the Atlanta police department has hired eight black police officers to work in the high-crime black sections of the city.  One of them, Lucius Boggs, smart and courageous is the son of a local minister.

The main crime Lucius and his partner Tommy Smith want to solve is that of the murder of a young black woman whose body was found in the trash. They had seen the woman earlier in a car driven by a white man – she’d run away when the car stopped. Later, Lucius and Rake, a young idealistic but white recruit, found out she had been murdered and their interest was piqued. They wanted to help, to get involved, to solve that case. Then it gets complicated in more than one way – solving the actual crime is a good twisty tale but the harassment of the new officers matches it.

There were plenty of rules about where they could go, whom they could arrest and so on.  Naturally,  there was quite a lot of opposition in the all-white force but they had a few allies. The opposition was both passive and outright, systemic and personal. That said, there was certainly not complete support from the black community. There was also some bad criminal types on all sides of every line . Leaving the city of Atlanta can be downright dangerous.

I got curious about the history so I had to Google for more background – always fun for me:

In other good news, the narrative is very nicely written with just a bit of subtle humor sprinkled throughout.

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