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Darkroom [Format Kindle]

Joshua Graham

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Extrait

1

XANDRA CARRICK

Binh Son, Vietnam: October 2008

This was her wish. Dad kept saying that from the moment we boarded our flight at JFK to our first step onto the fertile soil of Bình Son, which in English means “peaceful mountain.”

En route to our penultimate destination, Tran, our middle-aged guide, tells us all about the scenery through lively gesticulations and nasal broken English.

“This place all rice field now.” He lifts both hands and spreads them wide. Enthralled by the verdant fronds and the sound of exotic fauna, I hardly notice the weight of my backpack. “But during war, Vi?t Nam C?ng S?n come here in Bình Son.”

Perhaps it’s because I appear more Vietnamese than American that he breaks into the native tongue. Ironically, Dad, an American, knows more about this country than I do. He’s quiet and has been holding the urn under his arm, staring out at the hills.

Out in the lush green paddy fields, a boy prods his water buffalo with a bamboo stick, distracting me from Tran’s narrative. “Viet … what?” I’ve had enough years in weekend Vietnamese language classes to read and write. But this term escapes me.

“Vi?t Nam C?ng S?n. V.C.” Tran laughs. “You know, Vietcong? Charlie?”

I glance over to Dad, to whom this would hold more meaning.

He shrugs.

That same emptiness in his eyes, which have grown darker and more profound since I was a child, evokes a blunt pang. It's been over a year. Rather than drawing closer, he's grown more distant.

Of course, Tran has no idea that he’s hiking with Peter Carrick, Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist who earned coveted accolades for his on-the-spot photos of the massacre at Hu?. Nor does Tran realize that his daughter, Xandra Carrick, is a respected photojournalist in her own right. I may not have won a Pulitzer—not yet, anyway—but at twenty-seven, working for the New York Times is not too shabby.

“Vietcong fight American soldier here,” Tran explains, stopping to catch his breath.

I can take some pictures, which I do more out of responsibility to my craft than anything. “Now just rice farm family and water buffalo. Even water buffalo part of family. You know, Ch?ng c?y, v? c?y, con trâu di b?a.” Which means, The husband plows, the wife sows, water buffalos draw the rake. A proverb Mom taught me years ago, but it’s lost on Dad, who keeps staring at the hills.

“You okay, Dad?”

“I’m fine.”

The boy driving the long-horned beast is at most twelve years old. His loose pants are rolled up past his calves and his feet are submerged in ankle-deep water.

Narrow, peaked hills stand over the horizon, Titans guarding this remote village nestled in the manifold waterways of the Mekong. Palms sway in the earthy breeze blowing through the window and brushing through my now unruly hair.

I reach for Dad’s hand. One can only speculate on the reason for his reluctance to make this trip. As for me, this is my first time in Vietnam and I’m taken by its overwhelming beauty. “Was it like this when—?”

“Xandra, please. Don’t.”

“But there’s so much I want to know about this place, about you and Mom.”

“You know my answer.” The same for years, from the moment I first developed an interest in his career and experiences during the war.

“Even now?”

“Your mother would understand.” Dad’s gaze returns to the hills. “She knew how I felt about coming back here, but …” His gaze wanders off, draws him away to a time, a place, far off and forbidden. I know that look.

“Never mind, then.” I kiss his hand, lean into his chest.

For the next fifteen minutes, we continue quietly along the trail. Finally, Tran turns around and smiles, a gold tooth glinting in the setting sun. “Okay, we here.”

Still in awe of the breathtaking landscape, I set my pack down, and stretch. The ground is soft and moist, but at the same time it’s as solid as the sidewalk outside my apartment on Central Park West.

Beyond the hilltops, the sun falls to rest in a poignant wash of amber. The chrink-chrink of Rain Quails rings out invisibly behind an emerald veil of bamboo in the distance. Every thought arrested, every word, no one speaks.

The light is perfect, though it won’t last much longer. And despite the somber occasion, I simply cannot forsake the scenery. These shots will help me to remember.

The shutter sounds from my Nikon ripple the silence like a stone tossed into a glassy pond. Still transfixed on that same spot up in the hills, Dad lets out a pointed breath. “Probably not the best time.”

“Just a couple more. For Mom.” A twinge works its way up and lodges in my throat. As Charles Kuralt so aptly put it: “There is melancholy in the wind and sorrow in the grass.”

“Make it quick, will you?” He pads over to Tran and hands him a roll of greenbacks. “Cám ?n nhiêu l âm.

With both hands, Tran receives his payment and bows. He waves and returns to the trail from whence we came.

All is tranquil as the sun passes her mantle to the rising moon. We are serenaded not only by the Rain Quails’ ditty but by a chorus of frogs and crickets as well. Farmers and their water buffalo slosh back to their huts about half a mile downstream of us. Yet they can be heard as though a mere stone’s throw away.

For the first time in this journey, Dad puts his arm around my shoulders, warming my heart as nothing else can. He points to a vacant hut, with a kerosene lamp glowing in the window. Leaning into the security of his strong shoulder, I nod and take a moment to consider the significance of this place. Both to him and Mom.

“We start at daybreak.” He takes our bags and approaches the hut. “Let’s settle in.”

As I follow him into the hut, an unexpected irony arises: I’ve never traveled so far just to say good-bye. But I am glad to have made the trip. Mom would be pleased.

This was her wish.

Revue de presse

“Darkroom comes complete with a great mystery, unearthed secrets, and beguiling adventure. Joshua Graham mines an emotional landscape through an entourage of fascinating characters. Read this one—and take a walk on the perilous side.” —Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author of The Jefferson Key (Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author of The Jefferson Key)

"Darkroom is a fascinating, fast-paced, beautifully written story of love and war, murder, terrorism, and a dark conspiracy.” —Douglas Preston, New York Times bestselling coauthor of Cold Vengeance and The Monster of Florence (Douglas Preston, New York Times bestselling coauthor of Cold Vengeance and The Monster of Florence)

"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." —Christian Retailing (top pick) (Christian Retailing (top pick))

"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." —Associated Press (Associated Press)

“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.” —Author Magazine (Author Magazine)

“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.” —Suspense Magazine (Suspense Magazine)

“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.” —Rhodes Review (Rhodes Review)

“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.” —East County Magazine (East County Magazine)

"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 Top Shelf Book Reviews (The Top Shelf Book Reviews)

“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!” —Partners in Crime Book Reviews (Partners in Crime Book Reviews)

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 2352 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 386 pages
  • Pagination - ISBN de l'édition imprimée de référence : B00ERNSRIS
  • Editeur : Howard Books (1 mai 2012)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B005FLODPC
  • Synthèse vocale : Non activée
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  • Word Wise: Non activé
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°504.690 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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Amazon.com: 4.5 étoiles sur 5  79 commentaires
15 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 action from beginning to end 2 mai 2012
Par Joan N. - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Graham has crafted a novel with intense action from start to finish.
Xandra Carrick is following in her father's footsteps. He was a photographer embedded with the army in Viet Nam. What he saw there he has kept hidden for 35 years. Xandra is a well known photojournalist for a national newspaper. She has traveled the world, photographing the anguish of humanity in turmoil.
The novel opens as Xandra and her father go back to Viet Nam to spread the ashes of her mother. She has taken with her the old film camera her father used all those years ago. Back in New York, she begins to develop the film. As each print of the Viet Nam landscape emerges, she sees momentary images. Death.
She is stunned, overwhelmed by what she is sure her father saw and photographed. She experiments with the camera, taking photos of the park near her apartment. When she develops the photos of the park pond, she momentarily sees a body.
Then the nightmare begins. When she attempts to anonymously report the possibility of a body in the pond, the police come to her and shortly arrest her for the murder.
The situation only gets worse. A senator, running as an independent, will stop at nothing to assure he is elected president. That includes keeping hidden the slaughter he condoned in Viet Nam. Xandra quickly rises to the top of his list of those needing to be silenced - permanently.

This novel has intense action, nearly continuous. At times I had to tell my self to breath - it's only a novel. This fast paced novel has political intrigue, strained family dynamics, and romance. It explores the horrors of war along side that of a warped man bent on political power. It touches on the supernatural, the move of the Spirit revealing truth through visions. Will the truth somehow be brought out to the open before evil quenches it entirely?

If you like political intrigue and high suspense, this novel is for you. It will capture you early on and not let you go until the last page.

There is a discussion guide included.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
7 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Fantastic! 1 mai 2012
Par lighthouse88 - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Title: Darkroom
Author: Joshua Graham
Pages: 384
Publisher: Howard Books
Year: 2012
Note: "I received a free copy of this book from Hard Books for my honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own." Other reviews can be read at [...]
What words or images come into your mind when you see the word darkroom? Is there any particular activity that you connect with this word? Joshua Graham is a new author to me, and I can tell you that if he continues to write at this level, I am hooked! The novel uses flashbacks to the time the United States was involved in Vietnam. Interspersed throughout the pages are recent past events in U.S. History. Especially compelling is the thread of presidential elections and thoughts by the characters of the two main parties involved in the political arena.
Colson is running as an independent candidate who seeks to be the next President of the Unites States, bringing with him the hopes for a brighter future. The FBI seeks to solve a murder of a young college student or is there more to this? Xandi is the daughter of a photojournalist who was in Vietnam and witnessed horrifying events. Being attached to particular group of Marines, the pictures the photojournalist takes portray the horror that is surrounding him. Is that all there is to the situation when years later he is being hunted by the FBI? The same person who tries to befriend Xandi is also an FBI agent and has a tie to the history of Vietnam. How long has he been involved in discovering a plot? What plot? Who is calling the shots and doing his bidding?
The novel is a page-turner from the prologue to the last page, and like real life, not everything ends well. Okay, maybe some things do, but not everything. Some things are not clearly tied up at the end of the story. Could the author be planning another book along this line? Who knows? Scripture is spotted throughout the book by various characters. People are praying together and helping one another. Intrigue, murder, assassination attempts, friendship, shattered dreams, love, suffering, death, and so much more are in this story. Darkroom has those page-turning story lines that keep the readers going until the eyes get tired. It was worth it for me! The chapters are short, and the characters are vividly described as well as the action. I love the flashbacks and the hints to the way the story is possibly going through Xandi's dialogue.
I rate this a 5+ novel. It is that good and worth cuddling up with a diet drink to read with in the quietness of the morning, afternoon or evening. Grab a copy and get lost in the pages. It is awesome!
6 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Thriller Across Time 1 mai 2012
Par R. Rhodes - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
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.
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Riveting Intense Political Thriller 20 juin 2012
Par Jersey Girl Book Reviews / Jersey Girl Sizzling Book Reviews - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle
Xandra Carrick is an award winning photojournalist for the New York Times. At the age of twenty-seven, she's following in the footsteps of her father, Peter Carrick, a Pulitzer Prize photojournalist who was embedded with the US Army in Vietnam during the war.

Xandra and Peter travel to her mother's birthplace, Vietnam, to honor her dying wish by scattering her ashes. While in Vietnam, Xandra takes pictures using an old camera that Peter had used during the Vietnam War. Upon returning home to New York, she develops the film and sees disturbing paranormal visions of images of death. Stunned by the visions, she uses the camera to take pictures at a local park near her apartment. When she develops the pictures from the park, she sees a body in the pond, so she calls the police to report what she saw in her pictures, but she finds herself arrested for the murder of a young woman, a student at Juilliard. Out on bail, Xandra leaves NY for California in search of answers to the disturbing visions that she saw in the pictures, and she knows that the answers can only come from her father. Can Xandra solve the mystery behind the disturbing visions from Vietnam? Was her father part of a conspiracy while he was stationed in Vietnam? Can she prove that she is innocent of the murder she is accused of, or will someone stop her from revealing the secrets and truth that have long been buried?

Darkroom is a riveting political mystery suspense thriller that will have the reader sitting on the edge of their seat. The story is set in alternating time periods between the present and flashbacks to the Vietnam War, and intriguingly narrated with alternating first person perspectives by different characters. With vivid descriptive scenes and attention to detail, the author transports the reader back to the historic Vietnam War era of political conspiracies, lies and deceptions, atrocities and horrors of war, murder and paranormal happenings.

The author provides a cast of realistic, complex, strong and intriguing variety of characters, and masterly interweaves their individual stories into one heck of a compelling and powerful story. These characters are downright fascinating, and I thought that their varying narrative perspectives provided a realistic element to the storyline.

This intense fast paced suspense thriller is jammed packed with enough action, intrigue, twists and turns that will keep the reader captivated, holding their breath and guessing until the surprising conclusion. If you fancy an intense political thriller with a mixture of family discord and romance thrown in, then Darkroom is the novel for you!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author's publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Well Written Novel with Good Suspense and Intriguing Plot 26 mai 2012
Par Melissa - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Xandra Carrick has spent most of her life seeking the approval of her famous photographer father, Peter Carrick. Though she's maintained a good relationship with both her parents, the recent death of her mother has caused a rift between them. Unable to understand his distance, she continues her quest for the perfect shot that will hopefully capture his attention and approval. However, when Xandra begins to have frightening visions, her life quickly turns upside down and she finds herself as the prime suspect in a murder investigation of a victim she's never met. As Xandra soon learns, the victim knew who she was and had questions--questions that could expose secrets buried since the Vietnam War. With gripping suspense and a highly intriguing plot, Darkroom is a well written novel that easily held my interest throughout.

Darkroom is the first book I've read by Joshua Graham, but it certainly will not be the last. I was pleased to discover that it contains some of my favorite elements--historically based flashbacks, gripping suspense, interesting supernatural angle, unexpected twists, and sympathetic characters. I was also very impressed by the complexity and development of each story element. Without a doubt, Graham is a highly talented author and one I can't wait to follow for years to come.

It didn't take much time for me to discover how little I know/remember about the Vietnam War. In fact, after a couple of chapters I spent a few minutes researching to refresh my memory of who were the enemies and the allies. For those familiar with the basics of the war, there's probably no need to take a quick peek at wiki, but it certainly helped me to get a better understanding of the setting and events. Once I completed my brief research, it was much easier for me to follow the events and better understand the emotions of each character.

I love it when authors take a non-traditional approach to a book. In this case, each chapter is presented from a first person perspective, but the chapters rotate through different people (I particularly enjoyed Grace's narrative). The reader gets a great glimpse of each character's personality from the events that they witness and the emotions they go through. The end result is a book that brings the reader closer to the characters. Unfortunately, there is a downside to this approach--in this case, not every character has a unique voice and in some instances their voice changes. This didn't distract from the story, but I kept thinking how cool it would be if each character felt different rather than them only offering a different perspective.

I always appreciate an author surprising me with plot twists and turns. I like it even more when they're willing to sacrifice what the reader expects (maybe even wants) for a more realistic event. While Darkroom is clearly within the realm of fun fiction, it doesn't fall into the trap of predictable/stereotypical. It takes some chances, which is much appreciated.

In the pros and cons I stated that this book pushes the Christian genre. I'm not sure if this is a positive or a negative. In many ways it is a positive as this book is edgy, raw, emotional, intense, and quite frankly adds much needed quality work to the genre. However, it doesn't hold back in pushing the boundaries of acceptable Christian fiction. It contains mild language, colorful word choices, and one scene that will probably offend a few readers for its borderline sexual content. On the other hand, Darkroom contains an enormous amount of high quality spiritual content. There's no doubt that the spiritual element is encouraging, uplifting, relevant, thought-provoking, and well integrated into the story. My concern is that it sets on the fence. I think many Christian fiction readers will not take kindly to the language and the general market readers might not care for the spiritual content. So while it pushes the Christian boundaries in many positive ways and is an excellent book, I wonder if it will find the audience it deserves.

I'm always excited to discover a new author, though I realize Joshua Graham is not that new to the industry. I found his style to be very easy to read and his characters are simply fantastic. I completely enjoyed my introduction to Graham's work and can't wait to see what's next. For readers looking for a gripping, suspense-filled novel, with great twists and turns, Darkroom is one to check out.

Review title provided courtesy of Howard Books
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