Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Darkroom by Mary Maddox @Dreambeast7 #Mystery

Today’s team review is from Judith, she blogs at

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Judith has been reading Darkroom by Mary Maddox


My Review

Mary Maddox’  Darkroom is a murder mystery set in the mountains of Boulder, Colorado in  winter. This is the first book I’ve read by this author and I enjoyed it, not only for the story but also for the style of writing; fast paced, clear and detailed; taking the reader along through plot’s many and intricate twists and turns. Some  sections of the action were a little easy to predict but this didn’t take anything away from the novel–in fact it gave me a great deal of satisfaction when I guessed correctly; A “I knew it!” moment.  Predict

There are a lot of characters in the story, so much so that, in the early parts, I had to keep flicking back to see who was who and where they fitted in. But once absorbed in the book everyone fell into place. I particularly like how the characters, even the minor ones, are so well drawn, so rounded. There are a few exceptions who are portrayed as completely unlikable, flat characters who don’t change throughout. But mostly, as in real life, the characters all have good and bad sides to them. All cross the boundaries with their actions at one point or another.

The descriptions of the settings, from the interior of Cascade, the club where much of the action takes place, to the portrayal of the harsh, snow-drifted mountains, fields and streams are exceptionally good. And I need to add here that the descriptive narrative of the action in the story is equally good and easy to envisage.

The story is told from the third person points of view of the protagonist, Kelly, and Animal (otherwise known as Beau), a bouncer from the club. The voices are distinctive and the dialogue throughout is well written.

Darkroom is a novel I would read again and probably get more out of the second time around; because I suspect there are nuances to the plot that I probably missed. I was so keen find out what happened next I read it quicker than I normally do.

 I would recommend Mary Maddox as an author to discover. I recommend Darkroom for anyone who likes a thrilling murder mystery


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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT DARKROOM by Mary Maddox @Dreambeast7 #fridayreads

Today’s team review is form E.L. Lindley, she blogs at

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E.L. has been reading Darkroom by Mary Maddox


I enjoyed Darkroom by Mary Maddox on so many levels. On the one hand, it’s an exciting mystery but it is also underpinned by Maddox’s obvious love of art and in particular photography which enriches the story enormously.


The novel begins with a prologue describing four black and white photographs and Maddox goes on to cleverly structure the action around these images. They basically tell the story of a murder and Maddox uses her narrative to give the photographs meaning.


The person who captured the photographs is Day Randall, a free spirit who is dealing, not very successfully, with a bipolar disorder. Day disappears early on in the novel but her presence remains compelling throughout. Right from the title, it’s obvious that photography is going to be a significant aspect of the novel but it becomes an almost extended metaphor. One of the ways in which Maddox uses photography is in the idea of light and dark. It’s no coincidence that Day’s photographs are black and white with a raw, grittiness and Maddox proceeds to employ this idea in the depiction of her characters.


If Day is darkness then her friend Kelly Durrell is light. She is conventional to Day’s unconventional. Like Day though, her life is defined by art as she is the assistant curator of a museum. Kelly is probably the character most of us relate to, she is a kind, decent woman who always tries to do the right thing. Day has been living in her spare room for only 8 months but their bond is strong. Maddox gives us the information about Kelly, such as the fact that she is alienated from her family and lost her sister, but allows us to draw our own conclusions about her motives in creating a sense of family with Day. The light and dark motif also extends to other characters such as Gregory Tyson, a shadowy, dark figure or Cash Peterson the blonde, outdoorsy natural type.


Maddox’s love of photography is evident in all of her descriptions but particularly with buildings and locations. This creates a very visual novel so that at times it’s almost like watching a film. Likewise with her characters, particularly the minor ones who exist in the underbelly of society, her descriptions are vivid and almost documentary like. Interestingly, Larry Clarke is mentioned in the novel and Maddox recreates his style of photography with words.


The story is told to us in 3rd person but we get lots of the different characters’ viewpoints. This is very effective because it allows us to understand the motivations of the characters but it also adds to the suspense. Maddox feeds us new pieces of information via the different voices until, jigsaw style; the big picture starts to emerge.


I loved this novel for so many reasons. I think it can be enjoyed as a straight forward thriller but it’s also so much more than this. Maddox’s photographic way of creating a story is both ingenious and unusual. She has attempted to put a different spin on the crime genre and, in my opinion, has pulled it off with aplomb.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT DARKROOM by Mary Maddox @Dreambeast7 #amreading

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs at

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Terry has been reading The Darkroom by Mary Maddox


DARKROOM by Mary Maddox

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed by me as a member of Rosie Amber’s Review Team

Darkroom is a slick murder mystery/thriller set in the mountains of Boulder, Colorado in the winter – the setting itself was a plus point for me.

Kelly Durrell’s friend, scatty, bohemian photographer Day Randall is missing. So is Marcus, the lover of Day’s married friend, Odette. Kelly knows nothing of the murky world inhabited by those surrounding Day and Odette, and isn’t aware what she’s getting into when she starts to make investigations.

The story is told from the third person points of view of Kelly, and Animal, a bouncer from Cascade, a club owned by Day’s former lover, Tyson. Animal was a most appealing character, I liked him very much. I thought the story was tidily put together, with the strengths being the characterisation of the minor characters (such as the awful Dustin) and the dialogue, which is excellent; I felt the author really understood her characters and what made each one tick. The only one that didn’t really come alive to me was Kelly, who seemed like a slightly bland vehicle for the plot, some of the time, but this didn’t make me like the book less. Tyson is sexy and sinister, Joyce is ghastly, Day was lovely but infuriating, Welch revolting… the rest all came across so well.

The plot itself did not throw up many surprises for me, but it’s so well written that it kept me wanting to turn the pages. Recommended for anyone who likes a sharp thriller ~ oh, and I smiled to see the mention of 70s band It’s A Beautiful Day. I didn’t think anyone but me had heard of them, but perhaps that’s a UK thing!

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT DARKROOM by Mary Maddox @Dreambeast7 #Thriller

Today’s team review is from Alastair, he blogs here

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Alastair has been reading Darkroom by Mary Maddox


Four Stars – Tight as a drum crime thriller, sharply drawn characters.

Who knew Colorado was the home of so many art-lovers? Not me, that’s for sure, but Mary’s richly detailed page-turner soon drew me into a netherworld of shady drug-dealers, twisted nightclub owners and wealthy swingers.

Maddox handles the plot extremely well, with a slowburn start that soon gathers speed, as the body count and crime reports stack up. It’s a complex story set against the usually dull world of museums and galleries, but very well told, with some wonderful action scenes that really grabbed my attention. The baddies are, in general, a slimy, devious bunch and Maddox peppers the story with little asides that colour their flawed characters, and make them more believable because of the damage in their past lives.

Likewise, the good characters have you rooting for their success throughout this thriller, with the female lead Kelly being especially engaging; resourceful, yet vulnerable, determined to seek out the truth, confront her own fears and take action when the chips are down. Just what you want in a heroine.

The overall mood of the book combines influences from movies like Blue Velvet, Lynch’s masterpiece TV series Twin Peaks, the wry, dark underbelly of Fargo, or the can-of-worms world inhabited by Paul Newman in the Seventies classic noir, The Drowning Pool. Maddox has a clipped, reporter-like style which suits the subject matter and her rendition of places is replete with beautifully sketched details. She knows her chosen world intimately, and it shows in her perfectly observed prose.

The only reason this story loses a star for me is the portrayal of Animal – the club bouncer with a heart of gold. Having met many bouncers in the UK, I could never get beyond the fact that almost all of them are steroid-popping, always angry, drug-dealers buddies/enforcers. The notion that one might save a damsel in distress seemed about as likely as finding out Donald Trump personally funds three orphanages in Mexico.

I would have also liked a little bit more love action between Cash Peterson, the world-weary detective and Kelly, the amateur sleuth. There are sparks, but they need to fly a little higher…

One final, but crucial point – the book has been extremely well edited. Every line is sharp, each scene is there for a reason and not a word is wasted.

Job done Mary Maddox, good work.

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