By the Book: New book focuses on civil rights, prejudices

Race relations and corrupt cops are the subject of Thomas Mullen’s timely novel Darktown (Atria, $26). Set in the pre-civil rights South, the novel tells the tale of two black cops who are hired by the Atlanta police and face extreme prejudices from their fellow officers.


One of their first cases is to investigate the homicide of a black woman, whom they suspect has been killed by a white colleague. Besides homicide, the two new cops face a host of other challenges including moonshiners, ladies of the evening, and the oppressive restrictions of Jim Crow laws. Fans of Dennis Lehane and Walter Mosley will relish this new voice in crime fiction.

LIFE IN SMALL-TOWN Georgia can be deadly, especially when you’re a character in a novel. The fictional burg of Grambling, Ga., is the setting for The Cantaloupe Thief (Lion Fiction, $14.99) by Deb Richardson-Moore. Reporter Branigan Powers reopens the cold case of a murder with the help of a homeless man, who might also be a suspect. The Cantaloupe Thief is the first in a series.

Another cold case heats up in Clarkeston, Ga. In Cotton (Yucca Publishing, $15. 99) by Paul Heald, Professor Stanley Hopkins investigates the abduction of a student. Five years later, pictures of her surface on the internet. Further investigation reveals that the girl’s disappearance involves a conspiracy with the cotton industry and U.S. trade agreements.

POETRY AND PHOTOGRAPHY are natural pairs, both prompting us to look at reality in a fresh manner. Inspired Georgia (University of Georgia Press, $34.95) is a collection of contemporary poems and color photographs that highlight history, ecology and culture. Eighty-five Georgia poets and photographers contributed to the volume.

“The poems were chosen from published collections, and the photographers submitted work without having seen the poetry – neither are derivative of the other,” said Georgia’s Poet Laureate Judson Mitcham.

LOOKING FOR SUGGESTIONS for summer reading? Consider consulting the 2016 list of Books All Georgians Should Read. The Georgia Center of the Book made 24 selections and includes Bull Mountain, by Grovetown’s Brian Panowich. The novel is now out in paperback and has been described as a Blue Ridge Mountain Godfather. Other works recognized include a coffee table book on the history of the governor’s mansion called Memories of the Mansion, penned by first lady Sandra Deal and two contributors and a fictionalized account of Mark Twain’s life called Twain’s End by Lynn Cullen. For a full list, visit

THE AUGUSTA-RICHMOND County Public Library in conjunction with the Augusta Literary Festival is hosting a free Novel Writing series. Topics include theme and conflict Aug. 13, story structure Sept. 17 and outlining for clarity Oct. 8. All classes will held at the Main Library on Telfair from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, visit