Book of the Week: ‘Darktown’


By Thomas Mullen, narrated by Andre Holland


10-CD audiobook



In 1948, the Atlanta Police Department is forced to hire its first black officers. War veterans Lucius Boggs and Tommy Smith eagerly apply, but within six months are disgusted and ready to quit. The new policemen can’t arrest white suspects, drive squad cards or set foot into police headquarters. White cops, including the brutal Dunlow and the newcomer Rakestraw, still treat the neighborhood as their own. When a black woman who was last seen in a car driven by a white man turns up dead, no one cares except Boggs and Smith. Their investigation sets them up against Dunlow, Rakestraw, moonshiners, former lawmen, white aristocracy and the constant restrictions of Jim Crow. Boggs and Smith will risk their new jobs, and their lives, while navigating a dangerous world – a world on the cusp of great change.

This is one of the best neo-noir books I’ve read in the past few years, but it will not be for everyone. The level of violence, as well as the humiliations and injustices Boggs and Smith have to endure, made listening to the audiobook difficult occasionally. However, Andre Holland’s narration is perfectly matched to the story. His characterization of Boggs and Smith as two men eager to change the world is beautifully done, and he manages the complexity of the text with ease.

Nora CascaddenConcord Public Library

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Author: Insider Staff

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