Sunday, September 17, 2017

Lightning Men

Lightning Men by Thomas Mullen
Atria/37 INK: 9/12/17
eBook review copy; 384 pages
ISBN-13: 9781501138799
Darktown Series #2

Lightning Men by Thomas Mullen is a highly recommended sequel to Darktown. This historical fiction crime novel is set during the racial tensions of the 1950's South. In an overcrowded and rapidly changing Atlanta, the segregated city is patrolled by a segregated police force. It is two years since Officer Denny Rakestraw and "Negro Officers" Lucius Boggs and Tommy Smith were first introduced inLightning Men. The three officers are trying to keep the peace amidst volatile situations.

Officer Denny (Rake) Rakestraw finds himself embroiled in the midst of racial tension as black families begin to move into a formerly white neighborhood, Hanford Park. This attracts the attention of the Klan and Nazi brown shirts, putting Rake in the position of following the law or showing loyalty to his family, who are Klan members. Boggs and Smith are trying to work within the system to stop the sale of moonshine and drugs in Darktown, their area of the city, but their investigation implicates powerful men, including members of the police force. They too, are faced with the dilemma of trying to enforce the law while protecting their families while street fights and gun violence increase.
In Lightning Men Mullen blends  a crime novel with historical fiction. There are indications that Darktown and Lightning Men are the first books in a continuing series. I do regret not reading Darktown before Lightning Men, although you can certainly read Lightning Men and follow the plot. I think that reading the first book in the series, though, would provide me with even better developed characters and a more extensive background into their lives. If you have a copy of Lightning Men, though, don't let this comment stop you from reading it. The characters are still very well developed and are complicated, flawed individuals.

Superb writing helps keep the intricate and complex plot moving along swiftly, while including plenty of period details, attitudes, and actions that show a realistic historical setting. Although this is a historically accurate novel, it isn't, however, always an easy book to read. Mullens accurately depicts segregation and racism, which can feel brutal and raw as you are reading.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Atria.

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