Darktown: A Novel - Thomas Mullen

Not only is this a cracking crime novel but underneath in the smouldering heat of Georgia the racial tension and prejudice of post war Atlanta is laid bare. The story revolves around the killing and aftermath of Lily Ellsworth but the real heart of this novel is the attitude of the Georgia populace and in particular the police; the Atlanta Police Department. The black members of the APD are viewed as second class citizens, have been forced to work out of the YMCA (or the Y as it is affectionately known) cannot wear their uniforms except on duty and are viewed with utter contempt by their white working colleagues. In particular Lionel Dunlow is a brute of a man, an overweight alcoholic, who holds a pathological hatred for his black contemporaries. What is so powerful about this extraordinary novel is the question that constantly stays in my mind as I devoured every word and every chapter....Surely a civilized modern 21st society could never act in this manner? Yet we need look no further than the recent and ongoing US Presidential election to understand what a crazy mixed up and sad world we still live in.

 

I have rarely ever been so moved by a book that dealt so brilliantly with a country helping to win a war and yet emerging into what? a cesspool of hatred and prejudice..."We defeated the fascists in Europe, yet here they rule." The characterization was some of the best I have ever encountered in particular Lucius Boggs and his partner Tommy Smith determined to uncover the killer of Lily Ellsworth and thereby starting a chain of events that leads to death and corruption at the highest level. The writing throughout is sublime and so descriptive that the reader can almost taste the squalor and hatred...."Families lived packed into one-room apartments, multiple families sharing a bathroom in some buildings, others in ramshackle dwellings tucked into the alleys lining the more decrepit blocks."...."The grime of living is so much more interesting than the shine of eternity."

 

I would like to thank the good people of netgalley for sending me a gratis copy of Darktown for an honest review and that is what I have written. I cannot recommend highly enough; this is one of the most explosive, intelligent, thought provoking novels I have ever had the pleasure to read and I implore you to do the same.