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#Bookreview DARKTOWN by Thomas Mullen (@Mullenwrites) A historical time so far and yet so close to ours. And a great yarn.

Hi all:

darktown-blog-tour

As I’ve been telling you, September is read non-stop month for me, and today I bring you a great story set in a fascinating historical period and location that will be available today (13th September 2016). And it seems it’s going to become a TV series, so, you heard it here first!

I was contacted by the PR department looking after the launch of the book, asked if I wanted to take part in a blog tour, and I share also the press release.

Dark Town by Thomas Muller
Darktown by Thomas Muller

DARKTOWN by Thomas Mullen

6th September 2016, Little, Brown hardback publication, £16.99

 

Atlanta, 1948. In this city, all crime is black and white

 

On one side of the tracks are the rich, white neighbourhoods; on the other, Darktown, the African-American area guarded by the city’s first black police force of only eight men. These cops are kept near-powerless by the authorities: they can’t arrest white suspects; they can’t drive a squad car; they must operate out of a dingy basement.

 

When a poor black woman is killed in Darktown having been last seen in a car with a rich white man, 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 of their community and even their own lives to investigate her death.

 

Their efforts bring them up against a brutal old-school cop. Dunlow, who has long run Darktown as his own turf – but Dunlow’s idealistic young partner, Rakestraw, is a young progressive who may be willing to make allies across colour lines. . .

 

From award-winning author Thomas Mullen comes a riveting and elegant police procedural set in 1948 Atlanta, exploring a murder, corrupt police, and strained race relations that feels ripped from today’s headlines.

 

Soon to be a major TV series from Jamie Foxx and Sony Pictures Television

 

‘A subtle, robustly written novel of compelling contemporary resonance. The ensuing crisis involves the entire community, pitting principles against passion, values against instinct.’ Observer on The Last Town on Earth

‘Mullen is both merciless and measured in his depiction of the natural forces that can drag idealism down to earth.’ Daily Telegraph on The Last Town On Earth

Author Thomas Mullen
Author Thomas Mullen

Thomas Mullen is the author The Last Town on Earth which was named Best Debut Novel of 2006 by USA Today. He was also awarded the James Fenimore Cooper Prize excellence in historical fiction for The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers and The Revisionists. His works have been named to Year’s Best lists in Grantland Paste, and the Huffington Post and his Atlanta Magazine true crime story about a novelist/con man won the City and the Regional Magazine Award for Best Feature. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and sons.

 

For more information, please contact Grace Vincent, Publicity Manager

 Grace.Vincent@littlebrown.co.uk | 0203 122 6590

Links:Ah, and an interesting phenomenon. I noticed that the description for the different formats of the book seemed to be different. I’m not sure if they’re testing them but…

Kindle:

https://www.amazon.com/Darktown-Thomas-Mullen-ebook/dp/B01D9013IU/

Hardback:

https://www.amazon.com/Darktown-Novel-Thomas-Mullen/dp/1501133861/

Paperback:

https://www.amazon.com/Darktown/dp/0349142068/

Audiobook version:

https://www.amazon.com/Darktown/dp/B01JYE6ZXS/

Dark Town by Thomas Mullen
Dark Town by Thomas Mullen

My review:

Thanks to Net Galley and to Little, Brown Book UK for offering me a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

This novel combines an intriguing plot (a police-procedural thriller about an African-American young woman murdered in mysterious circumstances that many want to cover up) with a tense and little explored historical background, post-WWII Atlanta, a place where racial tensions were alive and well. The story takes place shortly after the first African-American men have taken their posts as police officers. The Atlanta of the time is a segregated city, with white and black neighbourhoods, and where the poorest and most criminal area is known as ‘Darktown’. Nobody wants to police it, but the business is booming.

The new members of the police force have a badge and a gun, but can only police the African-American neighbourhoods, cannot enter the police station, are bullied by the white police agents, command no respect, have access to no resources and are stabbed in the back at the slightest opportunity.

The story is told in the third person from several points of views. Most of the story is told in alternating chapters from two of the police officers’ points of views: Rake, a white rookie whose partner is a racist and corrupt police officer who uses force, threats and intimidation to control criminals and peers alike, and Boggs, an African-American policeman, the son of a preacher who is one of the influencers of the well-off African-American community in Atlanta. Rake tries to be a good and ethical policeman but finds it difficult to confront the status quo, and although he tolerates the African-American policemen, he is not pro-equality. For him, the best case scenario is that they keep out of each other’s way. Boggs knows they are only there as a political gesture and any excuse will be good to get rid of them, but he takes a stand and decides to investigate the death of the young African-American woman white detectives don’t care about, no matter what the consequences. There are also brief chapters told from other characters’ points of view, but this is always relevant to the story and I did not find it confusing.

The plot is complex, with several murders, police corruption, false clues, and the added difficulties of the partial sources of information and the obstacles that Rake and Boggs find at every turn. There are many characters that appear only briefly and it is important to be attentive to the story not to miss anything, and towards the end, the author cleverly keeps some of the clues under wraps (you  might have your suspicions but it’s not easy to guess the whole story and wrap it all up).

The action of the novel is kept at good pace,the writing has enough description to make us feel as we were sweating with the characters (and we can almost feel the violence in our own bodies), without ever being overdrawn, and there are quite a few chapters that end in a cliffhanger and makes us keep turning the pages. There is also a well accomplished underlying sense of threat and darkness running through the whole story and it’s impossible to read it and not to think on how much (and also how little) some things have changed.

The main characters have doubts, weaknesses and don’t always do the honourable or “right” thing but that makes them easier to relate to, although not always likeable. I missed having more of a sense of their personal lives (Rake is married but we know next to nothing about his family and although Boggs lives with his family, most of the focus is on the job) but that fits in nicely with the genre. Apart from an African-American Madam, the victim, and a woman who helps divulge some useful information, women don’t have much of a role in the story as seems to correspond to the period. Some of the secondary characters are odious whilst others are all too human, and at times become casualties in a war they never enrolled in.

A well-written story, with a complex plot, set in a relatively recent and turbulent historical period that will make you think about race, discrimination, and progress.

Thanks so much to Net Galley, the author, and Little, Brown Books UK (and Grace Vincent) for the novel, thanks to you for reading and don’t forget to like, share, comment and CLICK!

By OlgaNunez

I was born in Barcelona and after living in the UK for many years have now returned home. I teach English, volunteer at Sants 3 Ràdio, a local radio station, I'm a writer, translator (English-Spanish and vice-versa) and I'm a medical doctor and worked in Forensic Psychiatry many years. I also have a BA and a PhD in American Literature and Film, and a Masters in Criminology. I've always loved books and apart from writing them I review them often.
I write a bit of everything, check my books for more information and my about page for links.
My blog is bilingual, English and Spanish.

10 replies on “#Bookreview DARKTOWN by Thomas Mullen (@Mullenwrites) A historical time so far and yet so close to ours. And a great yarn.”

This is one I will definitely get….Thank you Olga for another superb review…I don’t have to do anywhere else to find books I love….:) Hope all is well and that you enjoy this day….keep reading and may the magical hummers be with you…janet. x

Thanks so much, Janet. I’m trying to get all the reading I have pending for this month done, but we’ll see. I’m pleased you find plenty to inspire your reading. I try to keep it varied. And thanks for the hummingbirds. Always need a bit of magic!

This looks very professional, and destined for a film adaptation. Surprised to see it on TV first, so I am guessing Jamie Foxx might play Boggs. I expect it will sell very well, given the previous success of the writer, though I prefer the cover/graphic on the top picture to the police car cover shown further down. Looks like a winner indeed, Olga, thanks for showcasing it.
Best wishes, Pete.

Thanks, Pete. I assume Jamie Foxx will play Boggs. All the characters had room for development, that’s for sure, so a TV series might be the perfect opportunity. The novel has a noirish feel to it so I think the bottom cover probably takes that approach (although it looks slightly horror). Plenty of books to keep going, Pete. I just have to keep reading. Thanks for your support.

Hi Olga. This is a very well done review. You’re always so mindful, and tell details that help me know whether I’d want to budget part of the scarce time I have to a given book. Personally, I find the subject matter of this one very tired and usually written about by people who have never experienced the kind of cultural balance of their settings.
Onward to the office. Have a terrific Tuesday. Huge hugs.

Thanks, Teagan. I can see your point. I haven’t read about the experience of the first African-American police officers in the South, but I’m sure there are a lot of historical texts and academic research on the subject. And it will be more familiar to some readers than others. I suspect it will prove popular.

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