Lightning Men by Thomas Mullen
Atria/37 INK: 9/12/17
eBook review copy; 384 pages
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.
My review copy was courtesy of Atria.