Archive for the ‘Cop Town’ Category

Darktown by Thomas Mullen is listed as a mystery and although there is a mystery in it, the book is more about race relations in Atlanta in the 1940s. It takes place shortly after the end of WW II. As an experiment, the mayor of Atlanta has recruited eight Black cops to patrol primarily the Black neighborhoods. Although they wear uniforms and carry guns, their authority is quite limited. They can’t arrest white people. They can’t carry on an investigation. There are more ‘can’ts’ than ‘cans’.


Enter Lucius Boggs and Tommy Smith, Black beat officers. One night walking their beat, they see a car driven by a white man strike a lamppost, causing it to tilt. There is a Black woman in the car as well. The driver continues on. Boggs and Smith call for white back up which arrives in the form of veteran Officer Dunlow and rookie Office Rakestraw. After a pursuing the driver and brief discussion, the driver is free to go. Boggs, Smith and Rakestraw are aghast that the driver was not given a ticket.

When his female passenger winds up dead the next day, intuition points to the driver of the car. However, no one seems inclined to pursue this line of inquiry. Boggs and Smith decide to investigate on their off hours. Rakestraw also starts a little investigation of his own.

The meat of Darktown is the hatred of the white officers of their Black coworkers, the hatred of whites against Blacks in general. The idea that the new recruits should be driven from the force, that they are not ‘real cops’ at all is evident from their separate office in the basement of the Black YMCA to their limited authority.

Darktown is some ways reminds me of Cop Town by Karin Slaughter which coincidentally enough takes place in Atlanta but in the 1970s and deals with the hiring of the first female police officers. While the hatred shown in Cop Town isn’t has bad as that shown in Darktown, the animosity was evident. I also find the similarity in titles interesting.


So, to sum up..if you’re a mystery fan and interested in a little history on the side, both Darktown and Cop Town are worth a read.






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There are only two things I’ll tell you about the plot of Karin Slaughter’s new, PrettyGirlsstand alone mystery Pretty Girls (no spoilers).

1. Claire’s younger sister, Julia, disappeared over 20 years ago. As a college student, she was last seen in a local bar. After she left, she was never seen again.

2. Claire was arrested for assault. Her sentence was reduced–all she had to do was wear an ankle bracelet for six months so that law enforcement would know where she was at all times. On the day the bracelet came off, she met her husband, Paul, for dinner. Feeling a little frisky, they left the restaurant after drinks, but instead of going home, Paul decided wanted to ‘have’ her in an alley behind the restaurant (he’d never shown any inclination to this in their 18 years of marriage). They were mugged in the alley and Paul was killed.

From this point, the story unfolds and the ‘sick’ side of Paul begins to emerge.

This is  not my ‘type’ of mystery but it was Karin Slaughter (who I’ve read before and liked), so I thought I’d give Pretty Girls a try. Up until page 216, I was fine and the book pulled me in. But I started page 216 and unceremoniously bagged the book. One of my (hopefully) few rules is that if there is a big chance that characters I like will get brutally hurt, I stop reading. In addition, an unlikely event took place that made the book unbelievable…to me.

What amazes me is that I heard Karin Slaughter speak at a Library Journal/Book Expo dinner and she was hilarious. How such a funny mind could come up with such a perverted plot is beyond my understanding.

CopTownTo conclude, if you’re into perversions, this book is tailor made for you. If not, skip it.

P.S. In all fairness, I must add an addendum. If you haven’t read Cop Town, Slaughter’s previous book, I highly recommend it.

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January is time for the Edgar Award nominations. Of course, true to form, I’ve read relatively few, but here are my thoughts on the few I did read.

Best Novel:


Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash – Unlike his previous book, The Land More Kind than Home, I didn’t love Dark Road to Mercy. I’d be interested in your views.




CopTownCop Town by Karin Slaughter – I really liked Cop Town I thought it was well written and a great story. Not only does it have a murder, but it deals with sexual inequality, bigotry and religious  bias.




I must admit though, that there are books published in 2014 by Bruce DeSilva (Providence Rag), John Harvey (Darkness, Darkness), Archer Mayer (Proof Positive), for example, that should have been on the list.


Best First Novel:

InvisibleCityInvisible City by Julia Dahl – This is the only one I read from the list and I loved it. The story was unique. The characters were good. I love mysteries set in New York. Great all around. By all means it is worthy.



Best Young Adult Mystery:


Fake ID by Lamar Giles – As with Invisible City, Fake ID was the only Young Adult Mystery I read that was nominated. Again it is totally worthy.




So along with a 50 best all time mystery list, I now have a whole new list to work through. I’m betting you do as well.

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CopTownHaving never read anything by Karin Slaughter prior to Cop Town, I have to give her credit for one thing right off the bat: She certainly has the talent for creating despicable characters.

It is 1970s Atlanta and Maggie Lawson is one of a handful of female police officers. None of the male officers want women on the job, including her brother Jimmy and her uncle Terry. There has been a rash of cop shootings recently and Terry and Jimmy don’t have time to watch out for Maggie. Additionally, it is felt that the women can’t add anything valuable to the investigation.

Partnered with, Kate, an FNG, (Fucking New Girl) from a posh neighborhood, no less, Maggie still wants to be part of the investigation but everyone thinks Kate will wash out by week’s end. When Jimmy’s partner is shot, with Jimmy close by, the murders are brought even closer to home. Everyone in the Lawson household is telling Maggie to resign. Both Kate and Maggie have something to prove to themselves and everybody else.

As I said, Slaughter has created some despicable characters, especially in the police department. Many of the males are veterans of either WW II or the Vietnam War, depending on their ages. They are anti women, anti Black, anti gay, anti everything that isn’t exactly like they are. They are habitually drunk on the job and prefer their own justice to that of the legal system.

Maggie and Kate are interesting characters, stumbling through their jobs, trying to compete in a man’s world.

Slaughter does a nice job describing the various sections of Atlanta. She also does a great job describing the police department of the times; the segregation within it (the ‘colored girls’ dress after the white girls leave the locker room and have put a curtain across it, claiming their own territory), the sexism within the department (the groping as the women enter the building) and the ‘taking the law into their own hands’ mentality.

All in all, I really liked Cop Town and would certainly read another Karin Slaughter book.

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