Q&A with Pamela Allegretto #Author of, Bridge Of Sighs And Dreams #ww2Fiction #HistoricalFiction

Bridge Of Sighs And Dreams by Pamela Allegretto

Nazi-occupied Rome sets the stage for Bridge of Sighs and Dreams, where the lives of two women collide in an arena of deception, greed, and sacrifice.

Following an allied attack, Angelina Rosini flees to Rome from her bombed-out village and a ruthless Nazi officer bent on revenge. In Rome, the spirited portrait artist channels her creativity into the art of survival for herself and her young daughter. Unwilling to merely endure, and armed with ingenuity, wit, and unyielding optimism, she enters the shadow world of the Resistance where she zigzags through a labyrinth of compassionate allies and cunning spies.

Meanwhile, Lidia Corsini, Angelina’s sister-in-law, quenches her lust for power and wealth by turning in Jews to the ruthless Nazi Police attaché with whom she has formed an alliance. Her spiral into immorality accelerates as swiftly as the Jewish population dwindles, and soon neither her husband nor her son is immune to her madness.

Once Angelina discovers the consequences of Lidia’s greed, she conspires to put an end to the treacheries; but in doing so, she becomes the target of Lidia’s most sinister plot.

Bridge of Sighs and Dreams is a story of betrayal, dignity, and purpose that highlights the brutality toward Italian citizens, under both Mussolini’s Fascist regime and the Nazi occupation, and illustrates the tenacity of the human spirit.


Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?

A) I attended Colorado University Extension in Denver and later moved to Florence, Italy where I studied art and Italian history at L’Università Per Gli Stranieri. To finance my education, my job résumé was as colorful as the Renaissance city itself. I shivered as an artist’s model and sang the blues in catacomb nightclubs. I worked as an interpreter/translator for a textile company and hawked leather goods to tourists.

Back on US soil, the colors on my résumé remained vibrant. In addition to Italian teacher at Berlitz School of Languages and a two-year stint as a Playboy Bunny, I added hairdresser/salon owner, to my palette. Classes in writing, cartooning, and art filled whatever free hours remained.

In 1996 I sold the hair salon and moved with my husband to Hawaii, where, for the following ten years, I devoted myself fulltime to painting and writing. Now, a resident of Connecticut, I divide my time between writing, painting, and Italian poetry translations.

In addition to my current novel, Bridge of Sighs and Dreams, my published books include L’Alba di Domani, and Immagini both are dual-language poetry books written in collaboration with Luciano Somma, two-time winner of Italy’s Silver Medal of the President of the Republic. My writing has appeared in four other Italian poetry books and in Italian literary journals that include: The English Anthology of The Italian-Australian Writer’s Literary Academy, Omero, La Mia Isola, and Poeti Nella Societa`. I have published book and CD covers as well as cartoons, and my art is collected worldwide.

Nazi-occupied Rome sets the stage for Bridge of Sighs and Dreams, where the lives of two women collide in an arena of deception, greed, and sacrifice.
Following an allied attack, Angelina Rosini flees to Rome from her bombed-out village and a ruthless Nazi officer bent on revenge. In Rome, the spirited portrait artist channels her creativity into the art of survival for herself and her young daughter. Unwilling to merely endure, and armed with ingenuity, wit, and unyielding optimism, she enters the shadow world of the Resistance where she zigzags through a labyrinth of compassionate allies and cunning spies.

Meanwhile, Lidia Corsini quenches her lust for power and wealth by turning in Jews to the Nazi Police attaché with whom she has formed an alliance. Her spiral into immorality accelerates as swiftly as the Jewish population dwindles, and soon neither her husband nor her son is immune to her madness.

Once Angelina discovers the consequences of Lidia’s greed, she conspires to put an end to the treacheries; but in doing so, she becomes the target of Lidia’s most sinister plot.

Bridge of Sighs and Dreams is a story of betrayal, dignity, and purpose that highlights the brutality toward Italian citizens, under both Mussolini’s Fascist regime and the Nazi occupation, and illustrates the tenacity of the human spirit.

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?

A) The tutelage of my Italian family launched my love for the Italian language the moment the first trilled “R” danced on my tongue and tickled my teeth. Animated conversations around the supper table often veered from current events to life in Italy during World War 2 and the impact the War had on our family. These conversations piqued my curiosity and nagged me to learn more.

I was 17-years-old when I took my first trip back to Italy with my parents. I met my Italian aunts and uncles in their Southern Italian village of Faicchio and listened to their personal accounts of the War. The more I learned, the more I wanted to know.

After high school graduation, I moved to Florence, Italy and attended L’Università Per Gli Stranieri, which heightened my passion for Italian history, especially those War years. My Florentine friends all had personal family stories relating to the Nazi-occupation and the brave Italians in the Resistance Movement. These first-hand accounts were a direct contradiction to the denigrating jokes I heard while growing up about Italian cowardice. I determined that someone should write a book about the Resistance. Well, my research revealed that there were already dozens of books on the subject. However, the more I read, the stronger my conviction to write my own novel based on my family’s experience. I also felt compelled to write a war novel in which the women don’t play the role of wallpaper or objects of amusement to soldiers and politicians. I wanted my women to take center stage in a behind-the-lines battle between good and evil.

As is often the case, life got in my way; and I shelved my anticipated novel for a few decades. Then one year, on what had become my annual visit to Italy, a conversation with my aunt ignited my shelved idea for a war novel. She told me about the suffering under Mussolini’s Fascist Regime, and how life in Faicchio became a daily challenge to survive. She related how after Mussolini was overthrown, the Nazis commandeered her home and banished her, 8-months-pregnant with her third child, and her two small children from their home with only the clothes on their backs.

By now, I was determined to find out more. I visited one cousin who supplied me with a detailed accounting of the Nazi occupation of the Village of Faicchio written by one of his professors, who had been a teenager during that time. It took me the remainder of my visit to translate this eye-opening account. Strangely enough, a compassionate German soldier, whom I had initially incorporated into my fiction, was real, and the professor had fleshed out his back-story. After I left my family’s farm and traveled toward Rome, I spent some time in the hill-top village of Anagni, where on a narrow side-street I stumbled across Tarsie Turri, the tarsia lignea (inlaid wood) workshop of Carlo Turri. Since one of the proposed characters in my novel practiced this intricate art form, I found this a serendipitous occasion. Not only was I able to glean information about tarsia lignea, but the data came from the best possible source. It seems Carlo Turri’s work has been collected by dignitaries world-wide, including Pope Paul and the President of the Republic. Carla Turri, Carlo’s daughter who carries on the tradition, gave me a detailed tour and demonstration of this Renaissance art form. Unfortunately, due to story “flow,” I was not able to include in my novel as much information about this art form as I would have liked. However, that personal experience is one I hold dear, and I consider the knowledge I gained to be priceless.

My next stop was Rome, where again fate stepped in. I came upon a vintage market, not far from Piazza di Spagna. There, I encountered a merchant who dealt in World War 2 paraphernalia. I had wanted to incorporate information on the treatment of Italian Jews under the Nazi occupation, and here I found real-time publications regarding the events that took place in Rome during that time-period. The discovery of personal letters and journals augmented my study. The consistent manifestation of hope, scribbled across those abandoned pieces of paper on which the ink now weeps, afforded a valuable glimpse into the Italian sentiment during this horrific period. I deemed all this information not to be coincidence, but rather a sign that I was meant to continue with my novel.

For once, I was eager to leave Italy, but only because it was time to write my novel. I concluded: if not now, when? My next step was to flesh-out my characters. I sought an eclectic collection of complex individuals, each with his or her own values, lack of values, dreams, and goals. I wanted Bridge of Sighs and Dreams to be a story of betrayal, dignity, and the tenacity of the human spirit. However, I thought it was also necessary to inject some light humor, not merely for the reader’s benefit, but to show that a sense of humor can serve as a valuable shield during dire times.

I will say, to weave my fiction around the time-line of events that I wanted to highlight was tricky, but I didn’t want to alter facts to fit my fiction; instead, I utilized truth to enhance my characters and their story.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) Alberto Moravia and Elsa Morante have been the most influential authors. They both write with such visual and emotional truth that reading their work is pure joy. Alberto Moravia’s: Two Women and Elsa Morante’s: History are two of my all-time favorite novels. I am also a fan of Chekov, Dostoyevsky, Gorky, Donna Leon, and Agatha Christie.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) My favorite childhood book was Collodi’s Pinocchio. I am still a big fan of Collodi and have 8 editions of Pinocchio in Italian and also in English by various translators. I do remember reading the Nancy Drew mysteries when I was about 8-years-old, and I was an instant fan of whodunits.

Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

A) I am deeply touched and elated when a reader takes the time to let me know through email, website, Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, etc. that they enjoyed my book.

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?

A) I won’t name names; they know who they are. They are my long-time friends who read my early stories and cartoons and laughed in the right places and cried in the right places and asked for more.

Head Shot 4 3264x2448-1
Pamela Allegretto
Authors links:
Website links for Writing:
Website links for Art:
http://www.redbubble.com/people/allegretto http://www.pamelaallegretto.com

*Thank you for taking part in the Q&A on my blog, I wish you every success with your writing career.

PA: Thank you for this opportunity. I appreciate your kindness and generosity.
Best wishes!

#BookReview 4.5* Rivals Of The Republic by @afreisenbruch @Duckbooks (UK)#TheBloodOfRome #Series @overlookpress (USA)

*I received a paperback copy via Duck books (UK) publishers in return for an honest review*

Rivals Of The Republic by Annelise Freisenbruch

Using her supreme knowledge of the period, author Annelise Freisenbruch presents the great new heroine of historical fiction, Hortensia, who must navigate the male-dominated courts of law in her quest to uncover a sinister plot to overthrow the Republic. Drawing from historical accounts of the daughter of famed Roman orator Quintus Hortensius Hortalus, Freisenbruch delivers an atmospheric, meticulously accurate and fast-paced story that will have readers craving more. Rome, 70BC. Roman high society hums with gossip about the suspicious suicide of a prominent Roman senator and the body of a Vestal Virgin is discovered in the river Tiber. As the authorities turn a blind eye, Hortensia is moved to investigate a trail of murders that appear to lead straight to the dark heart of the Eternal City.

My Review:

This novel has is it all, the atmosphere, crime, scandal, life and death of Ancient Roman era. The characters are well written and the plot incredibly appealing to me.
I am a huge fan of historical crime fiction.

Rome 70 BC

The novel opens with Hortensia and her brother Quintus at a gladiator arena. They are saved by a gladiator called Hannibal The Conqueror from a crocodile. When he later loses his fight Hortensia urges her father, a wealthy lawyer to buy him as a slave due to his earlier heroics.
Hannbel’s real name is Lucrio and he will, come to mean so much more to Horetensia than she can ever imagine……..

Hortensia’s father is a prominent wealthy lawyer, in Rome. She is his favoured child and for this reason he agrees to allow her to marry for love. Something unheard of for the era. Hortensia chooses to marry her second cousin, Caepio and they move into their own accommodation. Taking Lucrio with them, but Lucrio has secrets of his own and a deep seated need for vengeance…..

As the novel develops, Hortensia feels compelled to help Drusilla, at court with the case of stolen dowry and her children’s custody. This gives Hortensia a voice for the first time, something virtually unheard of in Roman society! Her father is furious with her, for creating a potential scandal. He forbids her from any future such endeavours.
But then Hortensia is summoned to the temple of vesta.

The chief vestal informs her that a body has recently been found and they believe that the vestal virgin was murdered. Documents have either been removed, or forged and this could have an impact on Roman society as a whole. The victim managed to write the words Pomey M at the scene before her death. We learn more about Lucrio’s background and why he is seeking revenge. But it isn’t until he is backed into a corner that he confesses to Hortensia. At this moment, they realise that despite their positions in society.
They must work together to solve the case of the murdered vestal virgin.

***** This novel is perfect for fans of the BBC TV show Rome! I was a huge fan of this series and this novel is very reminiscent.*****


Annelise Freisenbruch
Authors links:
Website: http://www.annelisefreisenbruch.co.uk/
Twitter: @afreisenbruch
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3412996.Annelise_Freisenbruch

*A huge thank you to the author & Duck books for my copy and I look forward to the next in the blood of Rome series!*

#Review 4.5* Midnight In Berlin by @jamesmac1x @Duckbooks #WW2Fiction #HistoricalFiction

*I received an paperback copy in return for an honest review*

Midnight In Berlin by James MacManus
Berlin, 1938. Newly-appointed military attaché Noel Macrae and his extrovert wife Primrose arrive at the British Embassy. Prime Minister Chamberlain is intent on placating Nazi Germany, but Macrae is less so. Convinced that Hitler can be stopped by other means than appeasement, he soon finds that he is not the only dissenting voice in the Embassy, and discovers senior officers in the German military who are prepared to turn against the Führer.
Gathering vital intelligence, Macrae is drawn to Kitty Schmidt’s Salon (a Nazi bordello) and its enigmatic Jewish hostess Sara Sternschein—a favourite of sadistic Gestapo boss Reinhard Heydrich. Sara is a treasure-trove of knowledge about the Nazi hierarchy in a city of lies, spies and secrets. Does she hold the key to thwarting Hitler or is Macrae just being manipulated by her, while his wife romantically pursues his most important German military contact, Florian Koenig?
MacManus’s absorbing new novel evokes a time and place when the personal and political stakes could not be higher, and where the urge for peaceful compromise conflicts with higher ideals and a vicious regime bent on war. As loyalties are stretched to the limit and Europe slides towards another war, could just one act of great courage and sacrifice change everything?

My review:

This novel is ww2 fiction at its finest! It is rich in its content and character depth. I also think it would suit the reader who may lack the factual ww2 knowledge. As it is fully expanded upon. The factual and historical accuracy is superb! The central allied characters are likable and the Nazi characters are portrayed very much, on point with what we have come to know now, post ww2.

Colonel Noel Macrae and wife Primrose arrive at the British embassy in Berlin, to a new posting and new life. Only neither of them can predict how much, their time in Berlin will ultimately change who they are……

Macrae will begin work alongside Roger Halliday and David Buckland. They work for the ambassador Sir Nevile Henderson. The ambassador is a weak man, having spent far too long in Germany, cosying up to the Nazi elite. Nevile believes Germany and Hitler, do not want another war and that this is mere speculation. An evening meal is organised and they are warned to stay away from hotel Adlon. Where the journalist and racketeers thrive.
But what kind of diplomat, heeds every word of their bosses?

“There is always a price to pay for Peace” Nevile

The novel explores Macrae’s background and marriage. We learn that he is an experienced soldier in ww1 and is sniper trained. We also learn he has significant marital problems, with his wife stating they should each embark on affairs.
It isn’t long until Macrae is drawn to the Adlon.

At the Adlon, Macrae makes an acquaintance of Shirer an American journalist with CBS. He explores Berlin and the surrounding governmental buildings. I found that pre-war Berlin was brought alive on the page and that it felt very atmospheric, if not eerie to read. Through conversations with Halliday and Macrae’s old friend German Colonel Koening. We learn that Hitler is planning a military coup, to establish complete control of the military. Hitler is planning a purge.
But why would Hitler plan a purge, if he is not really to go to war?

Across town in Berlin, Joachim Bonner, Herdrich’s #2 is partly running the salon Kitty. A brothel disguised as a restaurant, where the sole attraction is Sara Sternschein. Sara was a university law student, until Hitler took power and ended her life as she knew it. She is now forced to be a prostitute at the salon. The Nazi’s coerced her into the role, with threats against her brother (Joseph being held at Buchenwald) and her mother. They use Sara, to literally turn ‘tricks’ on Nazi Elite. Enabling Heydrich to always stay one step ahead, of any competition. The chapters with her in, are sinister and eerie, the fact that she is so unemotional in her response to her plight, broke my heart!

“You know I always obey orders” Sara

When the military coup, becomes fact, Macrae is faced with informing the UK government. Nevile still persistent in his beliefs that this is not necessarily an act of war. I found Nevile very frustrating, but is this because I have the forth sight Nevile never could have had?

The history around this particular year, is fully detailed within the novel. We witness the effects of Hitler’s actions on all of the staff at the British embassy.
It isn’t long until Macrae, Halliday and Koening are plotting………

“I don’t want to be here. I can’t stand the place. It’s evil” Macrae

Bonner decides to have Sara turn her ‘trick’ on Macrae. But he hasn’t taken into account Sara’s own plotting. Life faced with ‘servicing’ the Nazi elite, must have been daily physical and emotional torture. Then Macrae and Sara finally meet………..

This novel really is an education on the ww2 era. The secrecy, lies and desperation for information, flows from the page.
This novel brings Berlin to life!

James MacManus
Authors links:
Website: http://www.jamesmacmanus.com/
Twitter: @jamesmac1x
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1250590.James_MacManus
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JamesMacManusAuthor/



#BlogTour Q&A with @DearestAnnabel #Author of #APearlForMyMistress #HistFic @HQDigitalUK

A Pearl For My Mistress by Annabel Fielding

England, 1934. Hester Blake, an ambitious girl from an industrial Northern town, finds a job as a lady’s maid in a small aristocratic household.

Despite their impressive title and glorious past, the Fitzmartins are crumbling under the pressures of the new century. And in the cold isolation of these new surroundings, Hester ends up hopelessly besotted with her young mistress, Lady Lucy.

Accompanying Lucy on her London Season, Hester is plunged into a heady and decadent world. But hushed whispers of another war swirl beneath the capital… and soon, Hester finds herself the keeper of some of society’s most dangerous secrets…


Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?

A)Of course. Essentially, it’s a story about three very different women get caught up in the political struggles of the 1930s, in three very different ways. It’s about the allure of fascism, the allure of love, the power of art and the art of climbing to power.

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?

A)I have got the first idea back in 2014, but, for two years, it drowned in the incoherency of my research and my confusion at the whole writing process. It was only in the spring of 2016 when I have finally decided to set myself a reading list, a way to systematize my research, then a detailed outline, a chapter-by-chapter plan… As a result, I was able to have a revised draft with me by autumn.

I was totally new to the publishing process (and living outside the UK didn’t help!), so, for several months, I had been querying agents and young digital publishers, who didn’t mind unsolicited manuscripts. I have even tried self-publishing, but let’s just say that famous comparison to giving birth in a bar proved to be apt. So, when in March 2017 I have received The Call (or, rather, The E-Mail) from one of the HarperCollins imprints, I couldn’t have been more happy! It was like finding a home at last.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A)For historical fiction and politics, I’d say Hilary Mantel and Sarah Dunant, especially the latter’s Borgia duology. They are both really great at capturing the atmosphere of their respective eras – the fears, the hopes, the gore, the art.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) Lord of the Rings, I think. On some winter nights in my boarding school, I used to dream about the glades of Lothlorien.

Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

A) I’d say, it was seeing my book encouraged and promoted by my publisher. It really makes you feel you’re not alone anymore.

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?

A) It was probably my best friend, who has kindly read all the incoherent snippets, ideas and character playlists I sent her way.

Annabel Fielding
Authors links:
Blog: http://historygeekintown.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DearestAnnabel
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/annabelfielding/

*Thank you for taking part in the Q&A on my blog, I wish you every success with your writing career.



#Review #LightningMen by @Mullenwrites @LittleBrownUK 5* Genius

*I received an arc via the publisher in return for an honest review*

Lightning Men by Thomas Mullen

Lightning Men follows the multi-award-nominated, highly acclaimed crime debut Darktown into a city on the brink of huge and violent change – and full of secrets.

Atlanta, 1950. In a divided city, crime comes home.

White officer Denny Rakestraw joins Lucius Boggs and Tommy Smith from Atlanta’s Negro Officer precinct to face the Klan, gangs and family warfare in their rapidly changing city.

Black families – including Smith’s sister and brother-in-law – are moving into Rake’s formerly all-white neighbourhood, leading Rake’s brother-in-law, a proud Klansman, to launch a scheme to ‘save’ their streets. When those efforts leave a man dead, Rake is forced to choose between loyalty to family or the law.

Meanwhile, Boggs has outraged his preacher father by courting a domestic, whose dangerous ex-boyfriend is then released from prison. As Boggs, Smith, and their all-black precinct contend with violent drug dealers fighting for turf in new territory, their personal dramas draw them closer to the fires that threaten to consume Atlanta once again.

My Review:
*I am very nervous to post this review, it is my longest and most detailed review yet! Where some may feel this offers up spoilers/too much detail. Believe me, Thomas Mullen writes like a genius, I barely scrape the surface of this AMAZING novel*

I previously read the first in the series, Dark Town and was absolutely blown away by the raw honesty and accuracy of historical fact. I thought this series was brilliantly unique and a little part of history we should all know more about!
Officer Boggs and Officer Smith are back and it is one hell of a great read!

Atlanta, Georgia 1950 sets the scene of the novel. The growing racial tensions and the civil rights movement, create a powerful backdrop for this novel. Officer Boggs and Officer Smith are two of Americas first black police officers. They don’t have the same rights as the white officers and they certainly don’t hold any form of privilege.
But what they do have, is the desire and power to clean up their own community!

Their boss is a white officer named Denny ‘Rake’ Rakeshaw. He is in charge of, as it summarised in the novel ‘Americas negro police unit’. The unit faces many threats from both inside and outside of the law. The face dangerous opposition from the Klan, gangs and criminal warfare. When Rake’s bigoted brother-in-law Dale, a local klansman is linked to a crime scene. Rake must choose between family loyalty and the law? Meanwhile, Boggs is dealing with a personal drama, with his new choice of fiancée. Smith is looking forward to the birth of his new niece/nephew but wary as his sister has chosen to move into the white area of town.
One City, two races and three cops!

The prologue opens with Jeremiah being released from Georgia state prison. With no more than 75 cents in his pocket and no one to collect him. We the reader become aware he is alone in the world! His girlfriend having stopped writing years ago and he is startled by police sirens nearby. He stumbles across a preacher who warns him that if he doesn’t find a place to stay, he can be re-arrested for vagrancy!
The preacher warns he has seen many paroled convicts, re-jailed in shocking time!

“Always know what you’re up against and what you’re dealing with, and how you’ll get out of it if it turns ugly” Sgt McInnes

Boggs and Smith police their territory of Atlanta. Taking out moonshiners and drug dealers. They are determined to clean up the streets and refuse to be bought. Which unfortunately is not the same for the white police officers, who are happy to wade into dark town and take their cut of the drug money. In 1950 Atlanta, black people made up 1/3 of the population but they were crowded into 1/5 of the land. Poverty and inadequate housing at every turn. When you can’t get a job of fair salary, crime pays.
Just 10 black police officers to patrol thousands of souls……

Life for the black officers is far from easy. They aren’t allowed to wear their uniforms to/from work for fear of being killed. They face prejudice at every turn. They are often racially abused by the white police officers. They are not allowed to interact with white civilians and if suspect a white person of a crime, must find the nearest call box, for the white officers. They are not allowed to drink, even when off duty. Whilst the white officers frequently take the law into their own hands. Many are rumoured to be members of the Klan.
The inequality and injustice is fully explored, the white privilege of the 1950s is unveiled.

Boggs and Smith, along with Officers Dewey Edmunds and Champ Jennings continue to police the neighbourhood with conviction, despite the unfair world that surrounds them. When they stumble across a crime in progress and take action. It leaves a dead body, that none of them shot! With Boggs having knocked out a white suspect, safe to say, the officers have opened a can of worms!
What ensues in their conversations offers an insight how they each individually view race?

“You think white ladies don’t drink? You think their shit don’t smell?” “Rich folk don’t break laws?”

Across town, Dale is becoming more and more involved with the Klan. The world of their organisation makes for in-depth writing. The author has clearly researched the Klan and how they operate. Dale having been initiated at just 16yrs old, firmly believes, this is the gang for him. But a man so uneducated and angry, is an easy individual to manipulate.
It isn’t too long for Dale to fine himself at a crime scene either……….

“Kluxers are about more than the colour of skin. We are the moral authority?”

Over a dinner at Bogg’s family residence, we learn more about his fiancée Julie. His preacher father is disgusted at the impending nuptials and warns his son, so marry a ‘nice’ girl. The fact that Julie is a single mother to a young son Sage, has the preacher in the belief she is a fallen woman. This only serves to push Boggs closer to Julie.
But Julie holds some secrets of her own, secrets only she and one other soul know………

There is an introduction of a character called Bartholomew Kressler. Which makes for interesting reading, I am not going to spoil the character for readers. But he is exceptionally unusual, put it that way! He informs Boggs and Smith that he witnessed local loan shark and all round thug Thunder Malley at the scene of a crime.

When Dale urgently calls rake in the middle of the night, in trouble. Having escaped from a crime scene that left one man dead and one man badly beaten. It forces Rake to investigate, to try to keep Dale from being arrested. His motives for this are sketchy, but are fully explored throughout the novel. He uncovers the dead man was a suspect in the beating. A dead Klansman named Walter Irons. The victim of the beating however, is a white banker named Martin Letcher. Letcher not being unknown to the Klan himself, he believes in their values. Why are the Klan attacking their own men? How involved is Letcher? What are the motives for the beating?

Boggs and Smith continue to seek to take out Thunder Malley. They want Malley out of their community and not flushing it with his illicit product. We learn Smith has informants in the community and manages to navigate the criminal underworld in a different way to Boggs. The informant warns them there is a turf war about to erupt. That Quentin ‘Q’ Neale is wading on Malleys territory.
He warns them Q has protection from the white cops.
Something Boggs and Smith, do not!

The novels progresses at an engrossing pace. We learn more about the background of Rake. Invited to join the Klan in 1948, post his service in ww2. Rake refused. We learn of his immigration status, that his mother and father were progressive on race. They themselves being treated appallingly as German refugees in America, due to the war. His previous partners have been members of the Klan and this has always led to heated debate.
Rakes father summarises the Klan “ragtag group of bullies and Neanderthals”.

We also learn more about Smith’s background. His father was lynched in 1919, after ‘daring’ to wear his uniform from his service in the great war. His mother couldn’t cope with the grief and committed suicide. Leaving him an orphan as a child. He was taken in by an aunt and raised as her child, along his sister Hannah. Hannah is now heavily pregnant with her first baby. Her husband Malcolm is a veteran of ww2 and served in the 761st tank battalion, the famed black panthers. Malcolm has struggled to find work, after being demobbed and is currently working as a bouncer at a local club. Having recently moved into a white neighbourhood, they are facing daily threats and intimidation to move out. When a break, with a note attached comes flying through the window they call on Smith to help!

Cassies Rakeshaw, Rake’s wife is of different political thinking than her husband. She fears the local black population and what will become of ‘her’ neighbourhood. When local neighbours Paul and Martha Anne Thames invite her to join their group Collective Association of Hanford Park (CAHP). Their goal being to buy out the black homeowners. What will Rake make of her choices? Why is she so consumed with fear? Will she pay for the choices she makes?

There were moments throughout the book that I just had to put it down and digest the information. Why does a hateful mentality spread like a poison in communities?

When Malcolm is attacked, Smith is summoned to Grady Hospital, the coloured wing. Malcolm has been beaten so badly, he is lucky to be alive. He can’t account for who beat him, but it is known there was more than one assailant and they used a bat. Malcolm is angry and demands justice. He wants to see the white suspects held account for the beating. He quickly learns that this will not be happening anytime soon, when the cops cover it up for fear of a riot.

“Blame the negro for causing trouble, Boggs thought Disturbing the peace”

Rake doesn’t despise the black officers and upon seeing ‘white community only’ flags in his neighbourhood, tears them down. The flags carry a logo and it becomes clear to Rake the Columbians are back in town. Who are the Columbians? What is their connection to the Klan? Is this a turf war also?

Jeremiah returns to the town he knows. He discovers most of his friend are dead or in jail. His family have left for Chicago and blame him for the death of his brother. He only has one person he can call on in the world. Unbeknown to him, this woman has a new life.
One she is not willing to give up on…….

The Columbian/Klan theme is further detailed. I found it profound that it is more often than not (2017 and 1950s) those who have never fought for their country, whom believe right wing ideals and aspire to violence, fear and war to achieve their goals. Having seen recent media reports of a Nazi march in the USA. I did ponder why these men armed to the teeth with rifles, had not enlisted after 9/11.

Thunder Malley is finally apprehended and taken into police custody. However, police custody as a black man in 1950, is no safe place to be. It isn’t long until his body is discovered dead and it stinks of police corruption. All this takes place as Dale is due to meet the grand wizard himself. Overseer of the entire Georgia KKK at their sacred altar. Dale learns that the incident he took part in, was unsanctioned by the grand wizard. Which means dale could pay with his life for the crimes he took part in.
Now Dale fears the KKK, imagine the irony in that………..

As the novel continues we see Hannah receive further rape/death threats. Rake become involved with the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI). A local business owner is also dragged into the case. The white ladies down at the records department continue to ignore Boggs or Smith’s attempts to access files. Which again I figured was ironic given their own status of oppression as 1950s women. The case continues to throw up new characters, such as known racist Sgt Slater.
The past comes back to haunt all the characters and to read it all unfold is gripping.
One thing is for certain it is all going to erupt.

“Which part you find harder, the white cops who hate you for thinking you’re as good as them, or the coloured folk who hate you for ‘acting white’?”.

There are moments of reading this novel that I actually flinched, the spiteful terms or insults were painful to read. But they are accurately portrayed, this is how segregation worked. The knowledge that racist terms were incorporated into everyday language. Such as the use of the term ‘boy’ to a black adult male was done do, to show inferiority. So many phrases and slogans coined, to make the already privileged white person feel even more smug and superior!

Boggs and Smith make for perfect reading and their bond is firmly cemented in this case. This has to be my longest ever review and I shall finish up with saying, 3 simple words. Five star genius!

5* Genius!

*Lightning Men is released on 12th September in the UK*

Thomas Mullen
Authors Links:
Twitter: @Mullenwrites
Website: http://www.thomasmullen.net/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/43391.Thomas_Mullen
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thomasmullenfan/

*As this is the second in a series, I have decided to include the cover and synopsis for the first novel also, below*

Dark Town
Dark Town by Thomas Mullen

Atlanta, 1948. In this city, all crime is black and white.

On one side of the tracks are the rich, white neighbourhoods; on the other, Darktown, the African-American area guarded by the city’s first black police force of only eight men. These cops are kept near-powerless by the authorities: they can’t arrest white suspects; they can’t drive a squad car; they must operate out of a dingy basement.

When a poor black woman is killed in Darktown having been last seen in a car with a rich white man, no one seems to care except for Boggs and Smith, two black cops from vastly different backgrounds. Pressured from all sides, they will risk their jobs, the trust of their community and even their own lives to investigate her death.

Their efforts bring them up against a brutal old-school cop, Dunlow, who has long run Darktown as his own turf – but Dunlow’s idealistic young partner, Rakestraw, is a young progressive who may be willing to make allies across colour lines . . .

Soon to be a major TV series from Jamie Foxx and Sony Pictures Television.