Responding from pressure on high, the Atlanta police department is forced to hire its first black officers in 1948. The newly minted policemen are met with deep hostility by their white peers and their authority is limited: They can’t arrest white suspects; they can’t drive a squad car; they can’t even use the police headquarters and must instead operate out of the basement of a gym.

When a black woman who was last seen in a car driven by a white man turns up fatally beaten, 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 the community has put in them, and even their own safety to investigate her death. Their efforts bring them up against an old-school cop, Dunlow, who has long run the neighborhood like his own, and Dunlow’s young partner, Rakestraw, a young progressive who may or may not be willing to make allies across color lines.”

Score: 8/10

A deeply immersive novel, Darktown takes you through the life of several excellently developed characters as they have to deal with the bleak reality of 1940’s Atlanta. The book can be a bit rough in places, confronting you with the truths of that time period. The racism, the corruption, it surrounds and envelops you. Though parts of this world disgust you, the story keeps you invested, and the writing rides that line extremely well. A fantastic mix of detective novel and historical fiction, Darktown is fleshed out completely. All the players are fully formed, feeling alive and real. The setting is detailed, from the separate worlds inside Atlanta to the rural outskirts. A very powerful novel well worth the time.

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