Carolyn Banks based the character of William Holland on the high-profile case of Bradford Bishop, the State Department official who, in 1976, murdered his mother, his wife, and his three children in their suburban Maryland home. Allegedly, Bishop loaded the five battered bodies into the family station wagon and drove all night to a wooded grove in North Carolina. There, he dug a pit, dumped the remains of his loved ones, doused them with kerosene and set them afire. Smoke from the fire was spotted and the bodies were discovered and identified. Bradford Bishop, however, was long gone. Initially the FBI said Bishop had died in the Great Smoky Mountains, where the station wagon was abandoned. After several sightings, mostly abroad (Bishop had a diplomatic passport) the FBI's opinion was revised. In 2014, Bradford Bishop was placed on the FBI's Most Wanted List and CNN featured the Bishop family murders on its show, "The Hunt" That was when author Carolyn Banks, intrigued by the level of rage and detachment that Bishop exhibited, decided to revive her novel, The Darkroom. The book creates a possible motive for the brutal killings. In The Darkroom, William Holland is an unwitting victim as well as a savage murderer. When he meets Carol Neal and her young sons, he sees a chance to recreate the family he murdered-a sort of atonement that even he does not understand. Carol, overwhelmed by single parenthood, talks herself out of her growing suspicions. Meanwhile, CIA operative Al Amatucci has never been able to let go of the case-in part because of his complicity in it. As the paths of these three characters-Bill Holland, Al Amatucci, and Carol Neal-begin to touch and cross, a plot of stunning consequence is set in motion.
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Carolyn Banks is the author of nine novels and a collection of short stories. She has a long and continuous record of publication, including personal essays, feature articles and both narrative and documentary scripts. She lives in Bastrop, Texas, where she teaches English at Austin Community College.
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