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4.02  ·  Rating details ·  7,470 ratings  ·  1,139 reviews
“One incendiary image ignites the next in this highly combustible procedural…written with a ferocious passion that’ll knock the wind out of you.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Fine Southern storytelling meets hard-boiled crime in a tale that connects an overlooked chapter of history to our own continuing struggles with race today.” —Charles Frazier, bestselling author of
Hardcover, 373 pages
Published September 13th 2016 by 37 Ink
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Mary I am a white person and would never presume to offer advice to you. It's white people who need to read a book showing the racism that is hidden from o…moreI am a white person and would never presume to offer advice to you. It's white people who need to read a book showing the racism that is hidden from our eyes (because we don't live it and/or because we choose not to see it. And we are the ones who can't turn despite any feelings of anger, shame, or offense that may come up.
This is not advice, but I think it's understandable and necessary for you to step away. We are the ones who need to read and understand.(less)
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This is a superb and wonderful read. It is bleak, atmospheric and relentless in the horrors of racism faced by the black community in Atlanta and beyond. As a recent experiment, a unit of 8 black cops has been set up to patrol Darktown. They have no power of arrest and can do nothing in apprehending white perpetrators. Boggs and Smith are two of the black cops who see an ex-cop, Brian Underhill treating a black woman, Lily Ellsworth, brutally after he had crashed into a lamp post. White cops, Du ...more
Aug 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
*Thank you to Netgalley & Little, Brown Book Group for my ARC in exchange for a fair & honest review*

Gosh! This is certainly a powerful piece of social history, and although the story is fictional, it is actually fact based involving the employment of Atlanta's first black police officers, and around which the story is intricately woven.

The year is 1948 and Atlanta ( under pressure from higher up ) has just appointed 8 black police officers. They wear the same uniform as their white counterpart
James Thane
Oct 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
Darktown is an excellent book that works at many levels. At heart, it's a crime novel, but beyond that, it has a great deal to say about the time and place in which the story plays out.

Set in Atlanta shortly after World War II, the book opens just after the city government has forced the police department to hire its first eight black officers. But their professional lives are closely circumscribed. Their precinct "headquarters" is in the Negro Y.M.C.A., and they are not allowed to come into the
Darktown by Thomas Mullen is a 2016 Atria publication.
This book came highly recommended to me due to my love of crime fiction. I had no idea, until I had finished the book, that a television program was made based on this story that starred Jamie Foxx. I’ll have to check that out sometime.

But, as for the novel, this is an outstanding historical crime novel that depicts the atmosphere in Atlanta just after the second world war and before the civil rights movement. Atlanta has just hired eight b
Nov 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing

Darktown A Novel

Genre – Historical Fiction

It is a historical fact that Atlanta’s first black police officers were hired in 1948. There were eight officers hired. Seven of the eight officers were veterans of WWII. This book presents a fictional account of how events might have transpired in a mystery of the death of black women.

The black officers were not allowed at the Atlanta Police Headquarters, they were assigned to the basement of the Negro YMCA. They were only allowed to patrol in predomina
Diane S ☔
Jul 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 Atlanta, pre civil right era, forced to hire eight back police officers. Officers pretty much in name only, few rights, only allowed to patrol the black neighborhoods, not allowed in the white only police station, need to call on white police officers to make an arrest. Yet, Boggs and Smith are determined to do their jobs to the best of their ability. Grim reality, racial bias, racial tension, this book captures this era, 1949, extremely well. When a young black woman is found dead, the whit ...more
Aug 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
An easy 5 stars and one of the best of 2016.

This started slowly. It took me a while to get a feel for the characters and manage my reactions to the racism that underlines every single aspect of 1948 Atlanta. Even more so because I was acutely aware of how difficult I found it just reading about it, never mind having to actually experience or live though anything like it. Some of the scenes between white and black characters are so fraught with tension and unequal power dynamics that it's more th
Nov 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An enthusiastic 4 stars! Darktown is another novel that has me ending 2017 on a reading upswing.

Mullen's book features a small group of black police officers in Atlanta in 1948. They are the first black officers in the city. They have to work out of the basement of a YMCA, they can't wear their uniforms anywhere other than in the black neighbourhood they patrol and they are subject to unabashed racism within the force and more broadly. Against this backdrop, Mullen constructs a mystery around th
Nov 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-clubs

This is not an easy book to read. It is filling with dark events, dark thoughts. Get used to reading the N word countless times. You'd like to think that the white cops are caricatures but then you read the history behind the story, like it took until 1948 for the Supreme Court to abolish the “white primary” but how Governor Talmadge proclaimed they could still keep Negroes from voting “with pistols”.

The book is based on the real life story of the first eight “colored” police officers in Atlant
Sep 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
“Whoever debases others is debasing himself.”
― James Baldwin

****4.5 Stars****I started this story with some trepidation. Current events seem disturbing enough these days and I wasn’t sure that I’d have the stomach for more of the same in a novel. However, once I settled into the story, I couldn’t put it down. It’s a literary thriller with a murder but it’s so much more than that.

This was a powerful, thought-provoking and very well-written novel that’s based on the author’s imagining of a hist
My sincere thanks to the author, Thomas Mullen, Edelweiss, and Atria/Simon & Schuster for providing this e-galley to read and review. Darktown isto be published September 13, 2016.
The Hook - This superior review by my friend Trish captured my attention. I knew I had to read Darktown
Trish’s Review

The Line - Per the request of the publisher, Atria Books, I will not quote a line until Darktown is published. Instead I will mention a few references to black veterans returning from World War II. Not
Aug 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once I read that this book was to be turned into a TV series starring Jamie Foxx as the lead character it bought this character to life and made it so easy to imagine the scene.
Set in Atlanta in 1948 the police department is forced to hire its first black officers. This causes a large amount of friction not only with the community but also with the white police officers. The black officers are policemen but with a difference, they can't arrest white suspects, they can't drive squad cars and they
The experience of two black police officers forms the kernel of Thomas Mullen's explosive new novel set in a 1948 Atlanta that was “two parts Confederate racist to two parts Negro to one part something-that-doesn’t-quite-have-a-name-for-it-yet.” Black policemen are as discriminated against in their own headquarters as are black civilians, so these beat cops must have strong moral grounding and resilient natures to put up with the task at hand. Their poorly equipped office is in the basement of t ...more
My first foray into crime fiction. Essentially it's about the murder of a young mixed race girl and the attempts of one of Atlanta's black police officers to solve it. Problem is, it's 1948 and the few black policemen have very little authority and are viewed with contempt by their fellow white officers. For me the racism and the murder weren't integrated with sufficient artistry to make this compelling. The racism was dealt with in a very formulaic way and never quite as angering or heartbreaki ...more
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Darktown is remarkable, brilliant, infuriating and suspenseful. Darktown a fictionalized account of Atlanta's first black police officers in the late 1940's. As you can expect they were treated like garbage. They couldn't arrest white people, carry guns, drive police cars, wear their uniforms when off duty, and they were headquartered out of the YMCA. This book was difficult to read at times, it made me incredibly angry and made question how much race relations have changed in 70 years. I recomm ...more
Tom Mathews
When I first read a description of Darktown, a novel based on the experiences of the first black officers on the Atlanta Police Department, I assumed that it would be similar to Chester Himes’ Coffin Ed Johnson and Gravedigger Jones series, the only other books I’ve read about black police officers in the mid-twentieth century. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Darktown has neither the randy humor of A Rage in Harlem nor the charming volatility of Mouse in Walter Mosley’s Devil in a Blue Dress. W ...more
4.5 stars!

Despite wearing the same uniforms as the white police force, the first black police officers in Atlanta, GA shared none of the other benefits afforded to white officers at the time. Forced to work out of the basement of the YMCA, provided with no patrol cars, not allowed to investigate anything and not even allowed to step foot in the white police station, one has to wonder why Atlanta made them police officers at all.

Darktown delved into that mystery and many more. Boggs and Smith,
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you're looking for a historical crime fiction book packed full of interesting characters, a great plot, and thought provoking sub themes, look no further than Darktown by Thomas Mullen , the first book in what I hope turns out to be a long running series set in Atlanta during the early days of desegregation in the police force.

Officers Boggs and Smith are two black cops who see an ex-cop, Brian Underhill mistreating a black woman, Lily Ellsworth, whilst patrolling their beat. She later turns
May 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is Atlanta, 1948, and Officers Lucius Boggs and Tommy Smith are walking their beat in ‘Darktown.’ They are two of only eight black police officers in Atlanta. However, their powers are, to put it mildly, limited. They have guns, but are wary of drawing them. They cannot use the police station, or even look at reports filed there, but have their own squadroom in the basement of a local building. They are paid less than white colleagues, are not allowed overtime, are unable to patrol ‘white’ ar ...more
Scott  Hitchcock
Historical fiction piece set in Atlanta post WWII dealing with the integration of black cops into a world dominated by whites. The struggles of those new officers in dealing with the established cops, the expectations of the black community and the seemingly endless resentment from all sides. But not everybody is against them.
Jul 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Monica by: HBalikov
What an unexpected treat!!! This moody noir tale was all about history and atmosphere. As America grapples with police brutality and race, this book imagines what almost certainly was the painful process of integrating the police force in Atlanta, late 1940s. I would imagine this was steeped in part in historical fact and some flights of fancy. Not many think about the conditions on the first line of protection in civil society.

What must it have been like to be the first black police officers?
Andy Weston
Set in Georgia, the Deep South, in the years of racial segregation just after the Second War this is the story of Atlanta's first black police offices. The eight of them co-habit in a dark and dingy space below the YMCA and are treated dreadfully by the majority of the white public and other white police officers. But their very positions make this such an important time in US history. The setting for Mullen's novel therefore is quite compelling and without surprise it contended for several majo ...more
Judy D Collins
Top 50 Books of 2016

5 Stars +++ Most Anticipated Book of 2016! Worth all the hype and more. CONGRATS, to Mullen: Landing Amy Pascal & Jamie Foxx Team For 1940s TV Crime Drama About Race ‘DARKTOWN.’

Thomas Mullen has brilliantly crafted a cast of unforgettable characters in DARKTOWN with a mysterious murder, a southern black woman in 1948, amid strains of the civil rights movement.

Top Cop Procedural Thriller and Best Cover of 2016! A gritty cop procedural, in which the streets of 1948, the
Aug 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dark-fiction, mystery
I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway a very long time ago. I kind of wish I had read it a few years ago when things in the US weren’t quite so openly depressing but alas I read it now and it hurt my heart so much.

Dark Town is a mystery and an unflinching look at race relations in the not so long ago past. Even worse, much of it is depressingly still very relevant today.

It takes place in the 1940’s when segregation and racism was on full awful display. And if today’s news gets you down, readi
Rhonda Ruff
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was very hard to read at times. It was also something i was glad i did read! So sad that people treat others this way! And even sadder it still goes on today.
The Shayne-Train
Sep 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was great, and painful. Great in the way great books can be great, when they're well-written with lots of character development and a sense of time and scenery that really puts you there.

But it's painful, too. The goddamned HATE in this book. There's good-natured, don't-know-no-better hate. There's vicious-hateful-to-the-fucking-core hate. And everywhere in between. Hate and degradation and hate and injustice and hate. And prejudice. And hate.

This is the story of the first (and only)
Oct 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For many years I’ve been recommending Thomas Mullen’s The Many Deaths of The Firefly Brothers as a great American novel set during the Depression era, with its compelling period detail and a couple of superb protagonists in the guise of notorious bank robbers Jason and Whit Fireson. On the strength of this, I was keen as mustard to read Mullen’s Darktown, set in the racially charged era of 1940’s Atlanta…

I will quite honestly say that I was held in Darktown’s thrall from start to finish, and fel
Oct 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Atlanta, 1948, and the city has its first black officers of the law…with significant qualifications.
This is the story of two pairs of police: one white and one black. Each has a man who is more measured in his response to crime and one who isn’t. That’s where the similarity ends. More later on this.
Atlanta is a brutally racist town. Mullen makes it clear that this is not merely segregation. It is racial subjugation codified in law and enforced at every opportunity.

It would be another quarter of
Michelle (Michelle's Book Ends)
"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 w
Scott Sigler
Nov 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
DARKTOWN is a powerful novel.

Set in 1948, this is a tale of racism and perseverance that is close enough to modern day to disturb you when you learn, through the eyes of the characters, what American life was like. "Close enough to modern day" meaning your grandparents were probably in their 30s or 40s at that time, decision-makers in an American society coming to grips with the need for equality.

As you read this review, or as you read the book, think about that — you grandfather could have be
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Thomas Mullen is the author of Darktown, an NPR Best Book of the Year, which has been shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Southern Book Prize, the Indies Choice Book Award, has been nominated for two Crime Writers Assocation Dagger Awards, and is being developed for television by Sony Pictures with executive producer Jamie Foxx; The Last Town on Earth, which was named Best Debut ...more

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“now they were expected to walk with a heavy step and newfound power through their neighborhoods. In every other part of the city, however, they were still expected to vanish, or worse.” 2 likes
“You’re not impressing anyone with the ten-dollar words, Boggs. Fewer adjectives, please. No one’s giving you a PhD for this.” Since then, Boggs strained to be as succinct as possible so as not to offend his GED-holding boss. As” 0 likes
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