Wednesday, January 6, 2016

"Darktown" by Thomas Mullen

                                 "Darktown" is available for pre-order on Amazon: click here!

"Someone falsified Boggs report, deleting Brian Underhill, protecting an ex-cop who by all right should be the principal subject of an investigation. Why? Like at Jameson's funeral, he felt the wrathful eye of his neighbors on him, judging him a failure, unworthy. There was nothing Boggs could do about the Jameson case. But the Jane Doe case was different. Boggs vowed that, when Mr. Ellsworth showed up at the station, he would be there to meet him..."

Black officers Lucius Boggs and Tommy Smith work for the Atlanta Police Dept. It's set in a time before civil rights in the deep south. The officers report to an all black YMCA as their headquarters. This gives you a feel for what these men are about to face.

When they witness a black woman being assaulted by a white man, nobody seems to really care, except Boggs and Smith. Their conscience bothers them more when they find her dead. Since this is a white man that formerly worked for the A.P.D.,  they must tread carefully or risk their lives and their jobs.

On the other side of this store are white officers Denny Rakestraw and Lionel Dunlow. Dunlow isn't above beating a black man for no good reason, accept that he has the power to do so. While Rakestraw doesn't participate, he does nothing to stop it either.

It's a good story line and probably a pretty good representation of a time when people acted like this. I really don't care to hear/see/read the "N" word and it was frequent in this book. While probably relevant to the characters involved, it certainly didn't make me like these guys. These kinds of stories always make me sad. To think people lived in fear and were abused/murdered/mistreated for nothing more than the color of their skin. This book really drives these facts home.

Boggs and Smith do their best to wade through to find out who this woman was and to see justice served. Of course there are many roadblocks for them to get to that point. While the story goes at a steady pace there are some jaw dropping unexpected twists towards the end that not only pulled the whole thing together in a interesting way but also surprised me. I ended up becoming a little more fond of the story as I went, even though I was put off by racism at first. Not only a good story but a lesson in the history of this country. You can't walk away from this story without feeling empathy for the suffering of others.

Boggs and Smith do what they can to get the facts in spite of the roadblocks put up by other police officers. Only one, Rakestraw is actually willing to cross a line to them. There are a couple of allies they won't see coming. Can they solve the slaying of this woman? Is working in "Darktown" really what anyone wants? Even the people they try to help are resistant to what they see as interference and perhaps even betrayal by Boggs and Smith. The path to justice will be littered with bodies, beatings and murderers.

Thank you Netgalley and Atria Books: Division of Simon and Schuster.