The Best Book I Read This Month: Darktown, by Thomas Mullen


It's early in the month to be posting this, but there is no way anything else I read this month will top Darktown by Thomas Mullen. It left me breathless.

Set in Atlanta in 1948, the story follows two of the Atlanta Police Department's first African American officers (Lucius Boggs and Tommy Smith) and one white rookie (Denny Rakestraw) as they try to solve the murder of a young black woman, a murder that everyone else wants swept under the rug. All three main characters are compelling, and I look forward to following their story in Mullen's sequel, Lightning Men.

What really knocked me out about Darktown, though, was the atmosphere. This is not a light book. Even calling it noir would be a disservice. Every page captured the oppressive heat and humidity of that Atlanta summer. Every page captured the unrelenting, oppressive racism of 1948 Atlanta. Every word felt a hair's breadth away from violence. This is definitely fiction that brings history to life. There were spots so intense, I had to put the book down and take a few deep breaths. But then I picked it right up again because it was so compelling.