Responding to orders from on high, the Atlanta Police Department is forced to hire its first black officers, including war veterans Lucius Boggs and Tommy Smith. The newly minted policemen are met with deep hostility by their white peers; they aren’t allowed to arrest white suspects, drive squad cars, or set foot in the police headquarters.
When a black woman who was last seen in a car driven by a white man turns up dead, Boggs and Smith suspect white cops are behind it. Their investigation sets them up against a brutal cop, Dunlow, who has long run the neighborhood as his own, and his partner, Rakestraw, a young progressive who may or may not be willing to make allies across color lines. Among shady moonshiners, duplicitous madams, crooked lawmen, 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.
Pre-civil rights Atlanta, Georgia. Black officers, policeman almost in name only, as far as the department is concerned. It really didn't matter what you "said" they were, they dealt with discrimination and hate just like any other non-white person.
Really an amazing book. Detailed, graphic, and real. Real in ways I wish I knew a little more about now, and wish no one had ever had to know about. The racism, especially within the police department, was hard to stomach. I don't like the derogatory language (the "n" word), but I accept that it's part of the culture and times the story is set in. There's a lot to think about in just considering this aspect of Darktown. A lot.
The crime drama story line is a vehicle for all of the cultural/societal/historical dealings in this story. The mystery is well-crafted, thought out, but not too exacting. I really didn't know for sure what the answers were until the police did. I can't frequently say that, since I usually have it sorted out and only continue reading the book to see how long it takes the characters to figure out the story.
Challenging read if only because it makes you think quite a bit about the time period. Definitely Adult for YA, in terms of school library collections. It will engross many different readers.