Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Lightning Men

Author: Thomas Mullen
Genre: Historical Suspense
Type: Trade Paperback
Series: #2 in the Darktown series
Source: Publisher
Publisher: Atria
First Published: September 12, 2017
First Line: "The tunnel is long and dark, and though his feet are moving it feels like he is being pulled by some other fore, and then the tunnel recedes and he is alone before the vastness of the Georgia sky."

Book Description from GoodReadsOfficer Denny Rakestraw, “Negro Officers” Lucius Boggs and Tommy Smith, and Sergeant McInnis have their hands full in an overcrowded and rapidly changing Atlanta. It’s 1950 and color lines are shifting and racial tensions are simmering. Black families—including Smith’s sister and brother-in-law—are moving into Rake’s formerly all-white neighborhood, leading some residents to raise money to buy them out, while others advocate a more violent solution. Rake’s brother-in-law, Dale, a proud Klansman, launches a scheme to rally his fellow Kluxers to save their neighborhood. When those efforts spiral out of control and leave a man dead, Rake is forced to choose between loyalty to family or the law.

He isn’t the only one with family troubles. Boggs has outraged his preacher father by courting a domestic, and now her ex-boyfriend has been released from prison. As Boggs, Smith, and their all-black precinct contend with violent drug dealers fighting for turf in new territory, their personal dramas draw them closer to the fires that threaten to consume Atlanta once again.

Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Atria Books for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

My Rating: 4.5 stars

My Review: Lightning Men picks up two years after Darktown, the first book in the series, left off. Once again, Mullen brings his readers into the gritty streets of post-WWII Atlanta with its social and political issues, racial intolerance, corruption and outright brutality that continues to be the status quo for so many. Mullen doesn't shy away from these emotionally charged topics in this character-driven crime novel.

Readers continue to witness the Black officers struggle within the confines set for them by their supervisors as the small Black force polices the Black neighbourhoods which are grossly overpopulated and in need of even basic necessities. This is in stark contrast to the White neighbourhoods -- and many Whites are fine with the way things are, thank you very much. The dichotomy between Black and White continues within this second book and I like that Mullen doesn't give easy answers or hold back on the gritty, hard-to-read scenes. 

Mullen also continues to educate readers about aspects that many may not know about, myself included. For me, that issue involved the Columbians (aka Lightning Men) who formed soon after the end of WWII. With their lightning patches on their uniforms they, like the Nazis that inspired them, reveled in promoting hate against Blacks and any diversity and were a smack in the face to those American soldiers who had just returned from battling similar hatred overseas. 

The cast, including Rake, Boggs, Smith and MacInnis, continue to show great depth and readers get some backstory on each but I still feel there's a lot of untapped issues that Mullen will bring forth with each character in future books. The only issue I had with this book is that I found there to be a lot of characters to keep track of.

Mullen shows that, unfortunately, the process for social change is a very slow one as we sadly continue to witness in recent events. Racism, both blatant and covert, remains a timely issue and racial tensions ran high then as they do now. 

The Darktown series continues to be an eye-opening, gritty and gripping series with well-rounded, well-flawed characters who struggle within the stifling confines of racial injustice, ignorance, indifference and intolerance. Mullen has combined compelling characters weaves historical issues within his story with great skill. I highly recommend this book but I strongly suggest starting with Darktown.


Lit.Wit.Wine.Dine. said...

Great review! I've still yet to read Darkdown (it's been sitting on my shelf forever) but I'm motivated to read it soon!

Laurie@The Baking Bookworm said...

Thanks! I liked Darktown a little bit more than LM. I think initially his writing and topic was so new to me and quite eye-opening. LM is still a great read but I was expecting it to be great, know what I mean? Hope you get a chance to read both soon!

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