September 2016 Indie Next List
“Darktown is a knockout novelization of the history of Atlanta's first black police officers, who were appointed in 1948. Deftly merging social history with crime fiction, the story follows two of the new recruits as they secretly investigate the murder of a young black woman. It is a mission fraught with danger as the black officers come up against bigoted white officers and the insidious racism of an Atlanta still under Jim Crow. Mullen spins an immersive tale out of this friction, and it is his willingness to engage with this time period and to let its ugly realities shape and inform the course of the investigation that elevates this novel from a standard procedural.”
— Nneoma Amadi-Obi, Politics & Prose Books and Coffee Shop, Washington, DC
In the tradition of our most acclaimed suspense writers, the author of The Last Town on Earth delivers a riveting and elegant police procedural set in Atlanta, a ripped-from-the-headlines depiction of a world on the cusp of great change involving race relations, city politics, and police corruption. Responding to pressure from on high, the Atlanta police department is forced to hire its first black officers. It's a victory of sorts, though the newly minted policemen are met with deep hostility by their white peers and their authority is limited: They can't arrest a suspect unless a white officer is present; they can't drive a squad car; they can't even enter the station through the front door. When a black woman who was last seen in a car driven by a white man with connections to the APD turns up fatally beaten, no one seems to care except for Lucius and Boggs, two black cops from vastly different backgrounds, who risk their jobs, the trust the community has put in them, and even their own safety to investigate her death. When their efforts stall they have to work alongside fellow officers who include the old-school cop, Dunlow, and his partner, Rakestraw, a young progressive who may or may not be willing to make allies across color lines. Set in the post-war, pre-civil rights South, and evoking the socially resonant and morally complex crime novels of Dennis Lehane, George Pelecanos, and Walter Mosley, Darktown is a vivid, smart, intricately plotted crime saga that explores the issues of race, law enforcement, and the uneven scales of justice.