Darktown

Written by Thomas Mullen

Review written by Adam Colclough

Adam Colclough lives and works in the West Midlands, he writes regularly for a number of websites, one day he will get round to writing a book for someone else to review.


Darktown
Little Brown
RRP: £14.99
Released: September 13 2016
HBK

Atlanta 1948, a boom-town with all the tensions that entails; add to that the inbuilt prejudices of the American South of that era, and you have a powder-keg waiting to explode.

In the city's 'Darktown' officers Boggs and Smith, two of the first African American policemen recruited by the city flag down a car driven by a rich white man. Later his passenger, a poor black woman is found murdered. Despite being denied the powers held by other officers, they set out to investigate a crime their colleagues seem happy to ignore; only to find that powerful interests are determined to frustrate them at every turn.

In this novel Thomas Mullen brilliantly re-creates an America that seems both alien and all too recognizable.

Mullen captures every grim detail, the thousand small indignities segregation visited upon a whole community, hemming their daily lives in with a maze of illogical and petty rules. Mullen also describes the tensions within a white community nursing old hurts and insecurities, as the world around them slowly starts to change.

The central characters Boggs and Smith are well drawn. Mullen portrays them as brave, but imperfect men trying to do an already difficult job that some of their colleagues would like to make impossible.

It is possible to read this book as a skilfully crafted thriller that lifts the lid on parts of recent American history [that are often brushed under the carpet]. In light of recent events, it also admits to a deeper meaning, as a timely reminder of how prejudice can permeate every aspect of a society and that in the land of the free, freedom for some citizens is, and always has been granted conditionally.

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