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.
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Read an Excerpt
Making people disappear isn’t quite as easy as I remember. Of course, I’m not as young as I used to be. Rigor mortis will soon set in, and I’ve got to dispose of this poor lass’s body straightaway. How can I possibly be doing this again?
Thankfully, no one’s around this time of night. And with her limbs properly weighed down, she’ll stay under until … Bugger! Only three bags in the trunk. I shall have to improvise.
Right. Everything is ready. I cross myself and pull her ever-stiffening body from the trunk. She’s slight—just shy of... see more
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 T?t 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... see more
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.... see more
Napa Valley, California: October 2008
Until recently, I had never cared for his line of work, or his career aspirations. Politics was never my cup of tea. But one thing I’ll say for my husband: if there’s anyone who can do the job right and get this country back on track, it’s him.
In his first term as one of California’s senators, Rick had been widely acclaimed as a no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is legislator who produces results, not just talk. It’s a testament to his worthiness of the US presidency.
And, yes, he’s an... see more
Reading Group Guide
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. In Darkroom Peter Carrick withholds the truth in order to protect his family—a lie of omission. Do you think it’s ever moral or acceptable to lie? Why or why not?
2. Xandra Carrick is a strong individual but vulnerable when it comes to her relationship with her father. How much does your relationship with your father (or other paternal figure) affect your view of yourself?
3. Xandra’s visions bring her knowledge that put a burden of responsibility on her shoulders. Have you ever become privy to something that you struggled with, wondering whether you should turn a blind eye or bring it out into the open? How difficult was that decision?
4. Peter Carrick was not a religious person, yet he was married to Grace, a deeply spiritual woman from a different culture and ethnicity. How do you think their differences affected their marriage and life? Have you ever had to overcome such vast differences?
5. How were the following characters imprisoned by the lies and secrets they kept? Peter Carrick, Ian Mortimer, see more