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Lightning Men: A Novel (2) (The Darktown…
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Lightning Men: A Novel (2) (The Darktown Series) (edition 2018)

by Thomas Mullen (Author)

Series: Darktown (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
15323131,116 (4.12)77
""Reads like the best of James Ellroy." --Publishers Weekly (starred review, on Darktown) "Mullen is a wonderful architect of intersecting plotlines and unexpected answers." --The Washington Post, on Darktown From the acclaimed author of The Last Town on Earth comes the gripping follow-up to Darktown. Officer Denny Rakestraw and "Negro Officers" Lucius Boggs and Tommy Smith have their hands full in a rapidly changing Atlanta. It's 1950 and racial tensions are simmering as black families, including Smith's sister, begin moving into formerly all-white neighborhoods. When Rake's brother-in-law launches a scheme to rally the Ku Klux Klan to "save" their neighborhood, his efforts spiral out of control, forcing Rake to choose between loyalty to family or the law. Across town, Boggs and Smith try to shut down the supply of white lightning and drugs into their territory, finding themselves up against more powerful foes than they'd expected. Battling corrupt cops and ex-cons, Nazi brown shirts and rogue Klansmen, the officers are drawn closer to the fires that threaten to consume the city once again. With echoes of James Ellroy and Dennis Lehane, Mullen demonstrates in Lightning Men why he's celebrated for writing crime fiction "with a nimble sense of history...quick on its feet and vividly drawn" (Dallas Morning News)"--… (more)
Member:Linda_Trahan
Title:Lightning Men: A Novel (2) (The Darktown Series)
Authors:Thomas Mullen (Author)
Info:37 Ink (2018), Edition: Reprint, 384 pages
Collections:2020, Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:None

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Lightning Men by Thomas Mullen

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Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
4.5/5 stars

Thomas Mullen’s follow up to Darktown is the intricately plotted Lightning Men which again takes place in the segregated Atlanta, Georgia of 1950. Melding the genres of mystery and historical fiction we follow the day in and day out police beat of “Negro Officers,” Lucius Boggs and Tommy Smith.

Multiple storylines/threads are interwoven in this police procedural:

How do Boggs and Smith effectively “police” when some white officers are members of the Ku Klux Klan?
How do Boggs and Smith support/protect black families as they start to move into predominantly white neighborhoods?

Additionally, Officer Denny Rakestraw, is back again as well, and dealing with brother-in-law Dale, who is a member of the KKK, whereas Denny has refused to be a member. Denny continues to struggle with how to help Boggs and Smith, without drawing too much negative attention to himself from his fellow white officers on the force.

Mullen’s superior storytelling shows us the dignity of these first “Negro Officers” with the ongoing inequities they had to deal with in their jobs, and that moving towards “separate is not equal” took courage, persistence, and personal risk, and many would argue still does in 2019!
( )
  Lisa_Francine | Aug 5, 2020 |
The second in Mullen's Darktown series, featuring officers Smith and Boggs, two of the first black policemen on Atlanta's municipal force in the early 1950's. The moral dilemmas are front and center in this one, as the partners, as well as their marginally sympathetic white colleague, Denny Rakestraw, face hard choices trying to do right by their own families without violating their principals or their professional oaths. I confess there were times when the parallel story lines with several common elements made it a little difficult to keep everything straight. It's a dense book, and a grim one. There is a glimmer of light at the end, though, so I may have changed my mind about whether to read the next one that comes along. I thought I might not want to revisit this troubled, turbulent time and place, but we shall see. ( )
1 vote laytonwoman3rd | Jun 10, 2020 |
Atlanta in 1950 was a crowded place. The war was over and housing was scarce. Racial tensions were brewing, neighborhood lines were being redrawn, and not everyone was happy about that. Even the fact that black policemen now served in the Negro areas of Atlanta didn't mean these officers had the respect of white officers nor that of the residents. When a white man gets beaten down by the Klan and then a Negro beaten down a few days later, tensions threaten to erupt. What happens next? You'll have to read Lightning Men to find out!

I was excited when I discovered there was a sequel to last year's Darktown. I was surprised at what I learned from that novel and I learned a lot from this one as well. For instance, I'd never of the Columbians before. Apparently, this group of neo-Nazis formed, (and so soon after the war in what must have felt like a direct insult to the soldiers and survivors now living in Atlanta), to unite their hatred of both Jews and Negroes. They even dressed similarly to the SS officers in Germany, hence their nickname: lightning men.

I also learned a lot about how the neighborhoods changed during that less than peaceful time in American history. It's often painful to read about, but it's interesting to see events from several different points of view. Rake, Boggs, Smith and MacInnis are well rounded characters and even now, after a second novel, I think they all still have some secrets in reserve. None of them are perfect and they are all struggling to find their place in this new world, their new police station, (even if it is in the basement of the YMCA), and in their new neighborhoods. Social change doesn't come easy and I think all of these characters recognize and respect that in their behavior, which made them believable to me and maybe a little lovable too.

Lightning Men is scary in a way, because it's easy to recognize some of the behaviors from this story on the nightly news today. It's also sad that so much good can begin to be undone by just a few hateful people in high places. Not only is this story a good one, but it reminded me that America always has to remain vigilant, so that everything we have worked so hard for as a people, is not undone by only a powerful few.

Highly recommended! You can get your copy here: https://www.amazon.com/Lightning-Men-Novel-Darktown-Book-ebook/dp/B01MD0SFL0/cha...

*Thank you to NetGalley & Atria for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest review. This is it.* ( )
  Charrlygirl | Mar 22, 2020 |
4.5 stars. outstanding! ( )
  kbranfield | Feb 3, 2020 |
This is the second installment in a crime series by [[Thomas Mullen]]. Set in Atlanta, Georgia in the middle of the last century, the series follows Lucius Boggs and Tommy Smith, two of the first black police officers hired by the city. It's not an easy job. They work out of the basement of a YMCA, because the white officers will not allow them into their headquarters. And they are denied patrol cars and the right to arrest white suspects. They patrol one of the black parts of town, where previously there had been no police presence, outside of those cops who were running their own criminal activity in a place they could operate unhindered.

Smith's brother has managed to buy a house for his family, moving into a white working class neighborhood. There are a few other black home owners and tensions are high. This is also the neighborhood of Denny Rakestraw, a white police officer who has helped Smith and Boggs in the past, motivated largely by his deep antipathy for the Klan. Rake has troubles of his own; his brother-in-law, a Klan member, did a favor for someone claiming to be from an out of town Klavern, but things go very wrong and he needs Rake's help to protect himself. At work, Smith and Boggs are trying to find out who is involved in a enterprise bringing in moonshine and weed to Darktown, the neighborhood they patrol.

There's a lot going on in this book, but Mullen manages to keep all the different plot lines moving and brings them together at the end. It's well-plotted, well researched and well-written. Mullen manages to write characters who are firmly rooted in their time and place, without making them unlikeable. Rakestraw is a fascinating example. By the standards of his time, he's very liberal and open minded, but today's reader can't help but cringe at many of the things he says and things. Mullen isn't afraid to make his characters complex and full of contradictions. ( )
1 vote RidgewayGirl | Oct 25, 2019 |
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""Reads like the best of James Ellroy." --Publishers Weekly (starred review, on Darktown) "Mullen is a wonderful architect of intersecting plotlines and unexpected answers." --The Washington Post, on Darktown From the acclaimed author of The Last Town on Earth comes the gripping follow-up to Darktown. Officer Denny Rakestraw and "Negro Officers" Lucius Boggs and Tommy Smith have their hands full in a rapidly changing Atlanta. It's 1950 and racial tensions are simmering as black families, including Smith's sister, begin moving into formerly all-white neighborhoods. When Rake's brother-in-law launches a scheme to rally the Ku Klux Klan to "save" their neighborhood, his efforts spiral out of control, forcing Rake to choose between loyalty to family or the law. Across town, Boggs and Smith try to shut down the supply of white lightning and drugs into their territory, finding themselves up against more powerful foes than they'd expected. Battling corrupt cops and ex-cons, Nazi brown shirts and rogue Klansmen, the officers are drawn closer to the fires that threaten to consume the city once again. With echoes of James Ellroy and Dennis Lehane, Mullen demonstrates in Lightning Men why he's celebrated for writing crime fiction "with a nimble sense of history...quick on its feet and vividly drawn" (Dallas Morning News)"--

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