"With the pace, intensity, and beauty of a thoroughbred beginning its stretch run, Twelve Trees is simply mesmerizing."
– M.T. Kelly
Exracetrack journalist Priam Harvey, occupant of the prized "corner stool" at McCully’s Tavern, marks the first anniversary of his firing from Sport of Kings magazine and the coincident departure of his girlfriend, Barbara, by doing what he does best: drinking and gambling.
Events conspire, however, and when Harvey is pulled off his stool – literally and metaphorically – he is forced to make an important decision about his involvement in the lives of those around him, and, for that matter, in his own life.
Harvey, who appeared briefly in J.D. Carpenter’s first novel, The Devil in Me, and played a major role in its sequels, Bright’s Kill ("a satisfying suspense story of the first order" – Edmonton Journal) and 74 Miles Away ("slick, smart, not a shred of padding" – Globe and Mail), takes centre stage in this unusual tale of one mans coming to terms with himself.
J.D. Carpenter's novels have been nominated for the Arthur Ellis Award and appeared on national bestseller lists. Twelve Trees, while populated with characters from the Campbell Young Mysteries, is a stand-alone novel, and a rare instance of a genre-fiction series spinning off into a literary novel. He lives in Prince Edward County, Ontario.
It will suck the reader in as though you are hanging out with Harvey as his day progresses. With Carpenter's depictions, you get the sense that you are there, witnessing the goings-on yourself, never feeling like an outsider looking in. All the characters are three-dimensional, rather than just some cutouts used to dress up the atmosphere. This novel will probably slip through the cracks of most readers, but it shouldn't, since Carpenter has created the gambler's equivalent to other books of reminiscing men. One hopes that Harvey will actually go though what he plans on doing at the end of this fascinating look at lives that normally don't get their say in literature of this type.
Carpenter does a nice job of keeping the narrative light and snappy, easily drawing the reader into Harvey's world ... his portrait of one man’s struggle to square his disillusionment and addictions with his ethics is impressively done.
Carpenter has skillfully brought together an array of dysfunctional characters and blends them together into a seamless and believable story which engages the reader form beginning to end.
J.D. Carpenter has written a novel filled with hard-boiled prose combined with the lore of horse racing. Charging out of the gate like a seven furlong for three-year-olds, Twelve Trees races along to a satisfying conclusion. The tale of one man's coming to terms with his life, it is best read with a pint of Creemore and two fingers of Bushmills.
A beautifully written but coldly realistic tale of an empty life.