A chance to pioneer a new idea tempered by the corruption that has long been prevalent in the community features in Darktown by Thomas Mullen.
In 1948 the Atlanta Police Department try something unheard of by employing a group of black police officers. While these eight men aren’t given full police authority or resources and are met with much open hostility, and sometimes violence, from their white counterparts, they endeavor to do the best that they can to uphold the law. With the murder of a black woman who was last seen with a drunk white man, much of the police force doesn’t care to investigate too deeply into her death, expect for two of the black police officers who had been some of the last to see her alive. Unraveling the mystery of her murder uncovers more than they anticipated within the community and the white police officers.
A great read that develops the characters well and builds the mystery realistically throughout the narrative. The depiction of the corruption in the police force and politics, as well as the ways that racism was ingrained in society as a way to undermine efforts toward some modicum of equality in this novel was honest and raw, fostering thought and comparison with the unfortunate truth of how tense racial issues still resonate as a reality to this day. While there was some sloppy editing work on some of the logistical details, particularly in the last quarter of the book, it didn’t detract too badly from the rest of the novel and the message it’s conveying.
Overall, I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars.