"What a unique and engaging voice has David Carkeet. From Away is humanely funny, mysterious, and most unpredictable. It's filled with unexpected delights, most of which come courtesy of his wise-cracking, edge-seeking protagonist Denny Braintree. I'm not sure how Carkeet does it, but I'm glad he does. Fresh and unafraid. Enjoyment guaranteed."
--T. Jefferson Parker
"Imagine Preston Sturges and Ruth Rendell collaborating and you've got From Away. Beautifully plotted, emotionally resonant and, most of all, hilarious."
"Anyone who doesn't laugh out loud at David Carkeet's writing needs to have their pulse checked. He's a very clever fellow, and this is a deftly funny book."
"Great fun, a joy to read from first page to last. David Carkeet is a very funny writer, and in Denny Braintree he has created a marvelously original comic protagonist of broad dimensions (in more ways than one), a hero in spite of himself and his madcap antics. Enthusiastically recommended to any reader who craves an inventive mystery, unconventional characters, numerous surprises, and laughs on nearly every page."
"If you're like me and love dopplegangers, Vermonters, Vermonter-Haters, overeaters, horn players, contra dancers, cybersnoopers, family secrets, model train enthusiasts, and insanely inventive, entertaining, hilarious, and, in the end, moving mysteries involving all of the above, then you will also love David Carkeet's novel From Away. What an incredible achievement by an incredible writer."
--Brock Clarke, author of An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England
"Some people have to look for trouble, Denny is trouble waiting to happen, and Denny is at the heart of David Carkeet's riotous novel, From Away, a story that is part murder mystery, part farce, and completely hilarious. This book will remind you why you started reading in the first place--to be carried away to a more vivid and compelling world. So, dear reader, strap on your seatbelt and hold onto your hat--this is one wild and bumpy ride you're going on, and there are turns up ahead that you won't see coming."
--John Dufresne, author of Requiem, Mass
Denny Braintree, a wisecracking loner devoted to model trains, finds himself stranded in late-winter Vermont. His night at the hotel begins with promise, but then his prospective one-night stand walks out on him. Leaving town, Denny is mistaken for lookalike Homer Dumpling, a popular native son who mysteriously disappeared from town three years earlier. Instead of correcting the mistake, Denny dons his new identity as easily as a Vermonter's winter fleece, and a good thing too--the woman he had hoped to sleep with has turned up dead, and Denny is the chief suspect. As Denny tries to unravel the mystery, he struggles to hide his true identity from Homer's increasingly suspicious circle of family and friends, including Homer's prickly girlfriend.
Reviews and Interviews
Dennis Braintree's adventures in Vermont begin when his car runs off the road and into a ditch, leading him to hail passersby, "Welcome to my crash site!" He winds up at the Ethan Allen Motel in Montpelier, where blind hostess Betsy, whose rooms have been filled by a legislative session, sticks him first in a windowless cubby, then in the room vacated by Mort Shuler. It's here that he meets good-time girl Marge Plongeur, who makes herself at home in his Jacuzzi, sends him out for cigarettes and condoms and then vanishes after apparently swinging so hard from his chandelier that she brings it crashing down on his bed. Except that Marge hasn't just vanished; according to Nick and Lance, a pair of police officers Denny runs into at the airport, she's been pushed off the balcony by whoever rented the room and left footprints outside in the snow. That person, naturally, is Denny, and his goose would be cooked if Nick hadn't taken Denny for his old friend Homer Dumpling, Betsy's nephew, who spent the last three years in Florida. Denny, recently fired from his job at a magazine aimed at model-railroad buffs, sees no reason that he shouldn't accept the role that's just been handed to him, and Carkeet (The Error of Our Ways, 1997, etc.) moves heaven and earth to show how he can get away with the masquerade against all odds—mainly because Denny embraces each new obstacle as a challenge and never shows the slightest fear.
Sooner or later, of course, this house of cards has to come tumbling down, but Carkeet's Candide is so winning and his plotting so deft that the day of reckoning is as graceful as the moment when the juggler catches all five balls without missing a beat.
Crime-fiction authors toil relentlessly to create new heroes and subgenres, but Carkeet seems to have found something wholly new--the antic mind of willful writer and model-railroad aficionado Denny Braintree. Stranded in Montpelier, Vermont, by a late-winter car crash, Denny botches a one-night stand before realizing that people in town think he's Homer Dumpling, who disappeared from Montpelier three years before. Sliding into Homer's life and home, Denny is untroubled by being fired from his job at The Fearless Modeler magazine--and little troubled by being the prime suspect in the death of fthe woman he failed to bed. There's a crime here that Denny must solve, but Carkeet is much more interested in character--Denny's and Homer's. Denny recalls a less-operatic version of Ignatius O'Reilly from A Confederacy of Dunces, and his gift for saying the wrong thing generates much of the book's humor. The very unwillful Homer is sad, soulful, and affecting. Recommend this one to crime fans looking for something new. --Thomas Gaughan
Barnes and Noble Review (Sarah Weinman)
Seven Days (Burlington)
The Montpelier Bridge
Crime Spree Magazine
Kingdom Books, Waterford, Vermont
Murder by Type
Read Me Deadly
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-59020-304-0
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-59020-441-2
Also published in a dual edition with Double Negative, titled Double Carkeet, by the Mystery Guild.
French edition of From Away published by Editions du Seuil in 2012, titled La peau de l'autre.