Darkroom by Joshua Graham

Darkroom by Joshua Graham is mind-blowing, fast-paced, secretive, and conspiratorial.  Conspiracy theorists, anti-government advocates, and the generally suspicious of all things military and political must read Graham’s book.  Mixing in elements of reality with those of fiction, Graham aptly captures the disillusionment with the Bush Administration just before the election of President Barack Obama and the fervor behind a movement for change that got our current president elected.

However, in this case, the candidate for change is independent, former Vietnam War military star Richard Colson.  He exudes confidence and decisiveness, even in the face of his wife’s health misfortunes and the continuous emergence of his past that must be addressed.  Cover-ups, suspicious natural and accidental deaths among members of the Vietnam War’s Echo Company, disappearing college students, and other events pepper the narrative, but Graham has written a story that is ultimately about faith in ourselves, our beliefs, and the uncharted.

Peter Carrick, a photojournalist from the war and friend of Colson’s, is a distant father, despite his daughter Xandra’s attempts to win his approval through cello recitals and her career as a photojournalist.  The death of Grace, Xandra’s mother, brings the story full circle as Peter and his daughter fly to Binh Son, Vietnam to scatter her ashes as she’s requested, but what the trip brings forth is ugly, horrifying, and disconcerting.  Soon Xandra is caught up in a case she has no physical connection to, and is guided only by the mysterious visions she sees in the darkroom when she develops her photographs.

“To my surprise, when we pass the wall of trees, the ground is level and clear.  Charred black, the skeletal frames of several farmhouses shudder, as though one strong gust could blow them away like dandelion spores.  The rest are simply dirt pads where other homes once stood.”  (page 16 ARC)

Alternating from the Vietnam War where Peter Carrick meets his wife Grace and falls in love to the present where his daughter is caught in an investigation that turns into a hunt for her as she becomes a fugitive, Graham has created not only a dynamic protagonist in Xandra who must overcome her incessant need to please her father and gain his approval, but he’s created secondary characters like her father, Colson, Agent Kyle Matthews, and others who are just as complex.  Book clubs would have a ton of topics to discuss from faith to whether not telling someone something or a lie by omission is still lying.  Further, readers will likely discuss the variety of conspiracy theories that have persisted throughout politics, including the true perpetrators of the JFK and MLK assassinations.

Darkroom by Joshua Graham is more than compelling, it’s engrossing with its alternating points of view in different chapters enabling the story of the Vietnam War to be filtered through the eyes of characters in the present and the conspiracy to unravel at a far more breakneck pace toward the end.  Graham is not afraid of unhappy endings nor afraid of making the tough choices to kill off integral characters, but have faith because all is not as it seems.

About the Author:

Joshua Graham is the award winning author of the #1 Amazon and Barnes & Noble legal thriller Beyond Justice. His latest book, Darkroom, won a First Prize award in the Forward National Literature award and was an award-winner in the USA Book News “Bests Books 2011” awards. Connect with Josh at his Website, Facebook, and on Twitter.

Also, check out this month’s guest post about the power of photography.

This is my 40th book for the 2012 New Authors Challenge.

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  1. Thanks for the kind review and comments. If you have any questions or anything you’d like to discuss please feel free to ask!


  2. this one could be a great read and I haven’t read much about Vietnam war.

  3. Sounds like a riveting read. I haven’t read a thoroughly engrossing book in a really long time.

  4. This does sound really good, especially the Vietnam War connection.

    • This was fantastic. One of the best thriller/mysteries I’ve read in a while. I have to put it on the Vietnam War list.

  5. The fact that there’s an element of truth to the story makes this one sound especially chilling.