Last year, I read Thomas Mullen’s “buzzed about” publication, Darktown, and I was absolutely blown away. So, I was extremely excited to read its follow-up, Lightning Men. This book took me forever to get through. It had nothing to do with the writing (it is phenomenal) or the plot (it is completely captivating). Instead, I found myself struggling due to the completely pertinent nature of the text. It made me completely sick to my stomach to think that a plot, highlighting racial inequality and tension in the 1950s would be so relevant to 2017. I found this historical mystery to be completely draining.
The second novel in this series picks up two years after Darktown with African American police officers, Officer Boggs and Officer Smith, in Atlanta on patrol. The characters remained just as realistic and well developed as in the first novel and Mullen’s vivid imagery, which was one of the features I loved most within Darktown, was just as apparent throughout these pages. Mullens is a master of word choice and creating an entire “scene” for the reader.
I do think the novel could be successfully read as a standalone, but I personally think they should be read as a series in their entirety. I think it makes the most sense for characterization.
Like with Darktown, there were parts that I found hard to get through. Especially scenes depicting blatant racism- I found it especially hard to get through given the current events happening in our world (which I mentioned a little bit above); however, I do understand the importance of such raw displays.
Overall, Mullens continues to create a raw and gritty tale within Lightning Men, a story that both disgusted and captivated me. Who knew that was even possible? If you okay with something a little heavier, but extremely well written, then I would absolutely read this series.
Thanks to Simon and Schuster for the copy of this book; it was my pleasure to provide an honest review