Darkroomby Joshua Graham
YOU SHALL KNOW THE TRUTH, AND THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE . . .
After scattering her mother’s ashes in Vietnam, photojournalist Xandra Carrick comes home to New York to rebuild her life and career. When she experiences, in her darkroom, supernatural visions that reveal atrocities perpetrated by American soldiers during the Vietnam War, she finds/b>… See more details below
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YOU SHALL KNOW THE TRUTH, AND THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE . . .
After scattering her mother’s ashes in Vietnam, photojournalist Xandra Carrick comes home to New York to rebuild her life and career. When she experiences, in her darkroom, supernatural visions that reveal atrocities perpetrated by American soldiers during the Vietnam War, she finds herself entangled in a forty-year-old conspiracy that could bring the nation into political turmoil.
Launching headlong into a quest to learn the truth from her father, Peter Carrick, a Pulitzer Prize laureate who served as an embedded photographer during the war, she confronts him about a dark secret he has kept—a secret that has devastated their family.
Her investigations lead her to her departed mother’s journal, which tells of love, spiritual awakening, and surviving the fall of Saigon.
Pursued across the continent, Xandra comes face-to-face with powerful forces that will stop at nothing to prevent her from revealing the truth. But not before government agencies arrest her for murder, domestic terrorism, and an assassination attempt on the newly elected president of the United States.
Darkroom is a riveting tale of suspense that tears the cover off the human struggle for truth in a world imprisoned by lies.
"Darkroom is a fascinating, fast-paced, beautifully written story of love and war, murder, terrorism, and a dark conspiracy.”
"Crossing time and continents, this thrillers puts one of the most divisive eras in recent American history—the Vietnam War—into the public eye via a 40-year-old conspiracy that can no longer remain buried. Xandra must discern between truth and lies, love and hate, protection and danger in this taut tale sure to engage readers and challenge their understanding of God's truth and love."
"This gripping novel has it all: faith, hope, conspiracy, legal thrills, heart-pounding scenes of action, political intrigue and well-rounded characters. Graham has created a novel that thriller fans will devour."
“Mixing the end of the Vietnam War with a young woman’s paranormal visions of a murder in today’s New York, Graham has created a modern political thriller wrapped in a historical puzzle inside a tale of redemption. The short chapters, told from the point of view of the various characters, give it a cinematic feel and a breakneck pace.”
“Bravo! Graham takes characters and puts them inside each other’s lives in such a way that it’s impossible to put his book down until the last word is read. . . . [His] power with words is absolutely incredible and paints one of the most powerful pictures I’ve ever seen, anywhere.”
“A vivid retelling of historic events [that] bring the Vietnam War to life in alarming detail. If you like thrillers . . . then grab this book when it’s released. You’ll enjoy every minute of it.”
“A spellbinding and riveting tale of suspense with international flavor . . . Wrapped in authentic history, but woven into a tale of mystery and intrigue . . . full of twists and turns . . . this riveting tale will keep readers on edge. A book that I highly recommend.”
"Graham takes us on a ride full of twists and turns in this emotionally charged quest to find the truth. . . . I actually found myself holding my breath at times and sympathizing with the characters, feeling outrage when they were wronged, hating the villains or even forgiving them. When it was all said and done, I didn’t feel like I had finished a book; I felt like I had been on a journey."
“The intensity and heart pounding thrills you'll feel as you read each page [of Darkroom] will leave you breathless. Blending history with current events, Mr. Graham is a talented author who can wrap the reader in a cocoon of emotions, from bitterness to redemption, and leave the reader feeling as if they were in the story, as if they were the ones plotted against. A fantastic job!”
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Read an Excerpt
GRACE TH’AM AI LE
Thirty-Five Years Ago
Binh Son, Vietnam: January 7, 1973
I always knew the war would come to the South. Before the Communists sent the Vietcong back down the Ho Chi Minh trail, before the Spring Festival attacks during Têt Nguyên Ðán, I knew. I had seen it all in my dreams. I even foresaw my parents’ deaths, which left me and my brother orphans, forcing us to flee to the village of my aunt and uncle.
Some of the boys in Bình Son, on this side of the Mekong Delta, had expressed interest in joining the Vietcong, my brother included. Everyone else feared this would eventually draw a confrontation to our otherwise untouched hamlets.
And so it had.
The trip back from Saigon was only 120 kilometers, but it was like going from one world to another. At first glance, you would not imagine a war was taking place. Abundant green mountains, flowing waters of the Mekong, all resting under cotton clouds and sunlit skies.
Amongst the countless generations of farming families, I was the first girl, if not the first person, to leave and go to university. Now, upon my return, my entire life had changed.
At the bottom of the dusty road, where the foot of Bình Son touches the water, all that remained of the huts in the neighboring village were charred embers. Not a soul stirred. I could only hope that everyone had escaped.
Higher up, I looked to the hills where once I lived. Where Huynh Tho still lived. Perhaps, because it was hidden behind bamboo and palms, it had been spared. So quiet were the mountains. But for the whispering wind, nothing stirred. Not even a bird.
Off the road’s side, I walked under the shade of the trees. I had to find my brother and quietly bring him back to Saigon before it was too late.
Quietly. How do you take an angry young idealist who espouses the goals of the Vietcong away from his village quietly? The thought of an argument with Huynh Tho made me as anxious as did the war itself.
I stepped toward the path leading to our village. Each snap of a twig jolted me, as if it were a gunshot. But there was no one in sight. The utter quiet unsettled me.
Without warning, less than ten meters from the path, a terrifying explosion threw me to the ground. Through the ringing in my ears and the clouds of dust and smoke, I could tell. A battle had just erupted all around me.
“Huynh Tho!” Disembodied and hollow, my voice sounded as though I were underwater. Flashes of light, thumping explosions reverberating in my chest, the tat-tat-tat-tat of gunfire. Too frightened was I to lift my face from the dirt.
But that is what I had to do. For if I remained, I would surely die. And Huynh Tho, who was only sixteen, would be left alone with nowhere to go. Disregarding the fear that clutched my heart, I crawled to the most remote part of the woods.
This proved a terrible mistake.
In hopes of hiding behind the trunk of a tree, I got up to run. Someone began shouting. My English was not so good at the time, but the little I had learned at university sufficed.
“Get down!” cried the American, from somewhere I could not see. “Lady, get down!”
I spun around, seeking the direction from which the desperate voice called. In that instant, a whisking sound rushed toward me. A sharp twinge knocked me back, as if struck by a stone.
Then came the searing sensation below my collarbone, which I shall never forget. A spot of blood spread on my shirt. My head grew faint. My body became too heavy for my legs. Down I went.
The world around me blurred.
I began to shake.
So cold …
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Xandra Carrick is a photographer following in the footsteps of her father. Peter Carrick is a Nobel Prize winning photo-journalist. His prize came for his photo essay on a massacre in a Vietnamese village during the war. The camera he’s used has been passed down to his daughter Xandra. It is this camera that is at the source of this surreal journey. It begins on a trip back to Vietnam that Xandra and her father take. The trip was to honor her late mother’s wishes and to release her ashes there. But strange things begin to happen when Xandra develops the film. What are those things? You’ll have to read Darkroom find out. The story is a thriller and a vivid retelling of historic events. Each chapter is seen in first person point of view. Mr. Graham alternates between characters from Grace, to Ian, to Xandra. Grace’s story is achieved through her diary entries. These diary entries really bring the Vietnam War to life in alarming detail. In Particular, Mr. Graham covers the fall of Saigon in a very realistic manner. I’d seen the videos of it happening, and he captured it very well in the pages of this story. If you like Thrillers, or the odd story you’d see on Twilight Zone, then grab this book when it’s released. You’ll enjoy every minute of it. Kudos to Mr. Graham on another job well done.
Last year I was fortunate enough to read and review author Joshua Graham’s extraordinary freshman effort, Beyond Justice, which proved to be one of my favorite books of the year. I was impressed with his ability to take what could have been a stock storyline and mix things up, to make me really feel and connect with his characters. My literary luck continues this year as Mr. Graham’s follow up work, Darkroom, demonstrates that Beyond Justice was not a one-hit wonder and Joshua Graham is an author to watch out for. Darkroom is just as good as Beyond Justice, although in a very different vein. Rather than being told from the viewpoint of one central character, Darkroom introduces us to a handful of characters, all of whom will eventually come together for a heart pounding and thrilling conclusion. It is a slick and nuanced ensemble tale of a conspiracy that goes back decades. As the mystery unravels, it threatens to impact and/or destroy the lives of all the characters that Mr. Graham so deftly weaves throughout this tale. Writing a novel with a large cast of characters, a handful of whom are narrating the tale, is never an easy task but he seems to effortlessly intertwine their stories. I found heroine Xandra to be a strong, relevant character that I could relate to, and one that was, at times, painfully human and vulnerable. Her strength, along with portions of her grief, simply radiate from the pages. She will touch any reader who has lost a parent, or who is struggling to find a connection with a family member. I particularly liked how savvy and resourceful she was - - no shrinking violet here. I also found several of the supporting characters to be particularly praiseworthy and enjoyable. Even those characters that weren’t the nicest of the bunch were so well developed and interesting that I couldn’t wait to get back to them. Surprisingly, there wasn’t a weak character or plotline in the bunch, quite a feat when you’re dealing with an array of vastly different characters with very unique voices. As with Beyond Justice, a dash of the paranormal is thrown into the mix along with questions and uncertainty of faith. I hesitate to call Darkroom a work of Christian fiction, as I think the book is more than just a work on Christian beliefs and demonstrates the resiliency of the human spirit and most importantly, hope. As a reader who enjoys the paranormal/supernatural genre, I enjoyed those paranormal aspects of the book, as well as Mr. Graham choosing not to put forth a cut and dried explanation for all the events. Fans of historical fiction will appreciate Mr. Graham’s use of actual events to build and base his work, as he describes the realities and horrors of the Vietnam War and its aftermath. I knew only the basic facts of Vietnam prior to picking up this book and was shocked by some of the fictional recounting I read, knowing that Mr. Graham did use history as a basis. Fans of conspiracy theories will not be disappointed or find this book lacking in the least. At its core, Darkroom is a twisted tale of conspiracies and proves to be powerful and rewarding to the reader who likes their books with action, intrigue and secrecy. Mr. Graham’s writing is tight and seamless and he proves, once again, that he’s a gifted author with wonderful storytelling abilities. He has kept the chapters relatively short and by telling his tale with a handful of diverse voices, all done extremely well, Darkroom moves at a frantic and suspenseful pace. As he did with Beyond Justice, Mr. Graham immediately grabs hold of the reader with the tenacity of a pit bull and will not let go until you have read every last page and emerge exhausted and happily satiated from this astonishing ride. You will be so invested in these characters, so riveted by the story and events, that your life will be hijacked by Mr. Graham’s plot. Besides the superb plot, excellent writing and well fleshed out characters, Darkroom really excels in the plethora of twists and turns thrown at the reader. Don’t expect to know where Mr. Graham is going to take you on this journey because you are guaranteed to be thrown a curveball. Several times throughout the reading of this book I gasped out loud and uttered cries of “Oh no!” and “I can’t believe it!” For a book aficionado, especially a hardcore reader like myself who has likely read it all, this is absolute literary nirvana. I would not hesitate to recommend Darkroom without reservation to any book lover. You won’t be disappointed and you will find yourself anxiously awaiting Joshua Graham’s next foray into the literary world. Very well done, Mr. Graham. ©Psychotic State Book Reviews, 2012
VERY FAST READ. HOLDS YOUR INTERST AND KEEPS YOU GUESSING. REALLY ENJOY THIS AUTHOR.
I couldn't put it down and hated for the end to come!
To me, Darkroom, is a very poignant and emotional read. I really felt for Xandra Carrick, not only for her loss of her mother but also her secretive father. Darkroom is told in two different times, the present and during the Vietnam war. After going with her father Peter, to Vietnam, to scatter her mothers ashes. She had taken some pictures and when she got back home as she was developing these photos, she sees images that are disturbing to her. What she sees in these photo's takes her to a park in New York where she saw the body of a young woman floating in the water, dead. She soon finds herself arrested for the murder of the young woman because she knows things that only the murderer would know. Xandra is released on bail and flees to investigate why these things are happening to her. A Senator, running as an independent for president, is one of the men Xandra finds herself investigating. He had condoned the massacre that happened in Vietnam but does all he can to keep his involvement from coming out. What ensues is a story taken from the news at the time, an exciting, suspenseful thriller that had me eagerly turning the pages until the surprising ending. Political intrigue, atrocities of war and a bit of the supernatural makes Darkroom a very engrossing story. I highly recommend it. I intend to find more works by Joshua Graham to add to my increasing library.
I could not put this book down.Looks like found a new series .
Edge of your seat excitement!!!!! I read this thriller in one sitting. This cross between historical fiction and supernatural thriller moves at a breakneck pace and will leave you breathless more than once. Other reviews have recapped the plot, so there is no reason to do it here. Suffice it to say that Darkroom should be your very next read. Do yourself a big favor - read this novel, and then check out other excellent works by Joshua Graham. Enjoy!
Dark, deceptive, political intrigue and ghostly images...all this and more await the eager reader who loves a thriller and a mystery in "Darkroom." I lived through the Viet Nam War era, but don't recall having read a single suspense novel that has its focus around the Vietnam cross-culture that made its way to the US. This book is unique in many ways. It has a bit of everything to recommend it: love, mystery, conspiracy, family connections to ancient times and places, politics, terrorism and murder; not to mention the Viet Nam War and the vets that brought home not only images, but other baggage, and loved ones. A must read, this book is fast moving, intriguing and beautifully written to tantalize! Joshua Graham is a fantastic writer who knows when to dangle the carrot and when to pull it back. I loved the whole reading process! His characters are rich in detail, lovable, sad, frightening and strangely familiar. I was literally up all night reading "Darkroom" having such a good time in the process. I couldn't put it down... If you've ever been placed in the moral dilemma of wondering whether you should tell the truth and risk it all, you'll love this book. If you've ever wondered if there are conspiracies and cover ups in political arenas we aren't privy to, you'll love this book... I have to give it a solid... 5 stars!!
Darkroom is a very unique take on events from the Vietnam War and the impact decisions made have on the life of a photojournalist and his family. Darkroom is set in modern time but there are unique flashback that tell the story that occurred in Vietnam. Xandra is the main character who is following in her father footsteps of photojournalism. Darkroom is a story of love, loss and the ever need presence of faith in our lives. It is an extremely moving and haunting story. Darkroom was hard to put down and when not reading I was thinking about it. Few books succeed in consuming me in that way. Darkroom is by far the best written by Joshua Graham. Joshua has a fantastic way of telling a story that make you feel as if you are part of it. Darkroom by Joshua Graham is on its way to becoming a bestseller.
Another amazing book by Joshua! Once I started reading, I could not put it down.
Her mother’s recent death, her father’s continuing estrangement, frightening visions associated with any photos she takes with her dad’s camera - photographer Xandra Carrick has a lot to deal with. On top of that, she’s wanted by the FBI for a murder she did not commit, while nefarious forces want her dead. Having recently arrived back from a trip to her mother’s birthplace, Vietnam, Xandra is troubled by her father’s reticence. And to make her life even more complicated, after taking several photos during her trip, she discovers images in her pictures that she did not see with her natural eyes. She’s having visions of a supernatural nature – visions that will blow the lid off a major conspiracy – if she lives long enough to have anyone believe her. Arrested for the murder of a local Julliard student, Xandra flees New York and heads to see her father in California, seeking answers to her visions concerning Vietnam. FBI agent Kyle Matthews teams up with her to find some answers of his own. Darkroom, by Joshua Graham, is a political thriller with a spiritual undercurrent, driven mostly by Xandra’s mother, Grace, a Vietnamese immigrant who married Xandra’s father, Peter Carrick, after a harrowing escape from Saigon when the US troops pulled out. We hear her voice through several journal entries - beginning when she first met Peter, a photojournalist embedded with a platoon in Vietnam; through the birth of Xandra, until her death. Her voice brought a depth to the story that certainly tied the themes of purpose, God-given gifts, and the freeing power of truth, together. Darkroom rips along rapidly, jumping from multiple points of view, from Xandra, her father, her mother, a presidential candidate, an FBI agent, and a hit man. And because of this, Darkroom’s pace is set at a very high shutter speed, swiftly shifting character Point of Views from chapter to chapter. Initially, I found this somewhat of an ADHD style – jumping from POV to POV in only a couple pages. Soon, however, I settled into Graham’s rapid rhythm, which kept me interested in what was going to develop next. Graham’s intricate weaving of truth and deceit keeps the pages turning, and with a wide-open ending hinting at the return of feisty and insightful heroine, Xandra Carrick, Darkroom is a novel you won’t regret being exposed to.
I am a huge Joshua Graham fan. I fell in love with his mind blowing work when I read his novel, Beyond Justice. He draws his readers into the heart of the story instantly and grips their hearts so strongly, you can't help but turn page after page and read late into the night. Darkroom is a thousand times better than Beyond Justice was, and Beyond Justice was fantastic! Darkroom takes you to the life of a young woman, working as a photojournalist who experiences paranormal visions. Desperate to find out the truth behind the visions, she confronts her father about them. What she finds out is so much more than she bargained for. Tangled in a web of secrets and conspiracies, Xandra's story becomes life. Her story unfolds before the reader as she uncovers the truths behind the happenings in Vietnam. But, one this is for sure, someone doesn't want her to reveal that truth, and sets out to stop her efforts. I don't want to give too much away. This is just too good of a book to reveal anything more. I want you to grab a copy of this book now, sit down, and get lost in the pages. They won't be light reading. After all, what conspiracy is ever light? But, you'll get sucked into the vortex of the story and where you'll end up.....well, lets just say that the ending is powerful and leaves you hungry for more!!! I definitely recommend this. It's so beyond 5000 stars worthy. The intensity and heart pounding thrills you'll feel as you read each page, each characters piece of the story will leave you breathless. Blending history with current events, Mr. Graham is a talented author who can wrap the reader in a cocoon of emotions from bitterness to redemption and leave the reader feeling as if they were the story, as if they were ones plotted against. A fantastic job, Mr. Graham! I can't wait for the next story! ~~~~~Molly Edwards, Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours ~~~~~Reviews By Molly
If you love narrow escapes, deep secrets, on-the-edge-of-your-seat action, and murders, you will love this thriller. Dark Room begins with a scene during the Viet Nam war with Grace, a Vietnamese girl, being shot and Peter Carrick, a photo journalist, rescuing her. It then flashes forward to Peter and Xandra, Grace and Peter's daughter, spreading Grace's ashes in her childhood neighborhood in Viet Nam. The book then moves to present day in California and New York with Peter and Xandra, and the chilling ride begins. There are flashbacks to Viet Nam throughout the book, and these flashbacks play a major part in the story. As the book continues, Xandra questions....can this really be happening? How could developing pictures in a dark room and seeing visions as the pictures are being developed lead to clues in a murder investigation and subsequently her arrest for a murder she didn't commit and one that was contrived to cover up a crime from 30 years ago. The scenes are intense and very descriptive, and they will keep you turning the pages. You will learn about Viet Nam, political campaigns, political conspiracy, political deception, and lies that go unexposed, but you will mainly share the fears of Xandra as she experiences her visions, her struggle with trying to find out her father's secret from his past, and the horrors of being accused of numerous crimes and murders she didn't commit. You will also escape with Kyle and Xandra and be a part of their solving the mystery of why everyone in Echo Company during the Vietnam Nam war is either dying an unexplained death or being murdered. The book is action-packed until the last page. Graham is a commanding writer that will keep any lover of thrillers entertained with his non-stop action and unbelievable revelations of things that could easily happen. As you near the end, you realize there are very powerful messages being sent out to the reader. Dark Room can't be labeled anything but an excellent read. 5/5 I received a free copy of this book from Howard Books for my honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.