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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.

Check the other tour stops

Guest Post: Do Photos Lie? by Joshua Graham

Today, I’ve got Joshua Graham, author of Darkroom, visiting today to talk about photography, the media, and whether everything is as it appears.  Like photographs and media stories, humans often hide their secrets, but what we condemn in others may not necessarily be the same things we condemn in ourselves.  I’ve been fascinated with this concept ever since dabbling into photography and reading Believing Is Seeing by Errol Morris (my review).

About Darkroom:

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 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, Xandra confronts him about a dark secret he has kept–one that has devastated their family.

Her investigations lead her to her departed mother’s journal, which tell 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 covers off the human struggle for truth in a world imprisoned by lies.

Doesn’t this book sound awesome?! Without further ado, please give Joshua Graham a warm welcome and stay tuned for my review later in the month.

This photo and the photographer’s commentary inspired the epitaph in the opening pages of my novel, Darkroom.

“I won a Pulitzer Prize in 1969 for a photograph of one man shooting another. Two people died in that photograph: the recipient of the bullet and GENERAL NGUYEN NGOC LOAN. The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera. Still photographs are the most powerful weapon in the world. People believe them, but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths.” –Eddie Adams, Photographer

Read more here at TIME Magazine.

Adams, who believed Brig. Gen. Loan’s contention that the man he shot had just murdered a friend of his, a South Vietnamese army colonel, as well as the colonel’s wife and six children. “How do you know you wouldn’t have pulled the trigger yourself?” Adams would later write in a commentary on the image.

Often the media puts things together in ways that have little to do with the truth. Impressions are fabricated for various agendas, and unfortunately most are created to boost the ratings with sensationalism. But what happens when the truth is distorted or even buried completely? And what happens if the contained truth is uncovered?

This is not just a global concern, but a personal one as well. Do we try to cover up our weaknesses and failures at the expense of authenticity or integrity? We cry foul when politicians and elected officials are caught doing this, but do we ever ask how we are doing the very same thing, in our own personal lives?

Constantly looking over your shoulder, trying to contain a secret that no one must ever know has got to be one of the worst prisons anyone can face, especially because it is self-imposed. There’s a reason why the scriptures say, “The truth shall set you free.” And this is what Darkroom is all about.

Take a moment to examine yourself and see if you’re sitting in a self-imposed cell. And consider the freedom you’ll enjoy because of the truth.

Thanks, Joshua, for sharing your thoughts on truth and fiction.

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.

Mailbox Monday #170

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch. This month’s host is Diary of an Eccentric.

Kristi of The Story Siren continues to sponsor her In My Mailbox meme.

Both of these memes allow bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received this week:

1.  Darkroom by Joshua Graham, which I received from Simon & Schuster as part of Partners in Crime Virtual Tours in May.

2.  The Coldest Night by Robert Olmstead, which I received from Algonquin.

Gone Reading T-Shirt

3. Gone Reading T-Shirt, and you can get your own with my coupon code.

4. The Descendants DVD, which I won from Beth Fish Reads.

What did you receive?