Midnight Atlanta (Darktown)

Written by Mullen Thomas
Review by Clare Lehovsky

This is a revelatory historical novel that speaks directly to the language of today. We follow Tommy Smith, an ex-cop turned reporter, who is finding out who killed his boss and why. We see how the 1950s American South has challenged the desegregation laws that have been implemented elsewhere and the corrupt nature of the police force, FBI, schools and corporations alike that are working together to resist orders from Washington on ending segregation of blacks and whites. We get a snapshot of what life must have been like for African-Americans during that time. Mullen’s characters are rich and diverse, with their own internal struggles that impact the ongoing investigation led by both police forces. For example, while Sergeant McInnis is trying to decide about his future career in the force, he stumbles on a big lead in the investigation. Throughout the novel Mullen keeps the pace quick, packed with suspense at the end of each chapter. He brings to life 1950s America with such intensity that you begin to feel like the characters do, and imagine yourself in their situations. Although Midnight Atlanta is primarily a crime story, it is enriched with the historical and cultural events of the era that play a part in the novel as well.