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The Carnivore

3.38  ·  Rating Details ·  88 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
The Carnivore is a historical novel of disaster and betrayal, set in the Toronto of both 1954 and 2004. In the aftermath of Hurricane Hazel, a young cop, Ray Townes, emerges as a hero. There are numerous accounts of his bravery, of the way he battled all night to save those who were trapped in houses swept away by the raging Humber River. His story is featured prominently ...more
Hardcover, 255 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by ECW Press
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Sep 03, 2010 Blair rated it really liked it
This is one of those books that makes you want to find out more about the situation depicted: Hurricane Hazel. I was in luck because being a former Toronto resident (now is Oshawa) my dear mother actually remembered the night the hurricane struck. I pumped her for info, memories, any relatives affected? It turns out that Hazel was the most destructive natural force to ever tear through Toronto; and it continues to be to this day. The story focuses on Ray Townes, a retired Toronto police officer ...more
Oct 11, 2010 Anita rated it liked it
It is 2004, and Ray Townes, an ex-Toronto policeman is dying from emphysema. In his final days, he looks back on his not-so-perfect life. Dominating his regrets are his extra-marital affairs, although he suffers from a certain lack of remorse. He also feels he deserves everything his is willing to go out and grab for himself, which didn't endear him much to this reader.

This attitude also prepared the ground for me to sympathise with the internal thoughts of his long-suffering wife, Mary, whose
Jun 11, 2009 Suzanne rated it liked it
Shelves: books-i-own, canadian
The Carnivore opens with a dramatic description of a flooded intersection in downtown Toronto during the first hours of Hurricane Hazel's 1954 descent on the city. In this early stage of the storm, no one was taking the weather very seriously – young men swam through the streets with machismo and drunks lobbed beer bottles onto the road to watch them bob along the rising waters. Readers versed in Toronto's history, however, will know that such nonchalant attitudes did not persist along with the ...more
Andrea Love
Jul 08, 2010 Andrea Love rated it it was ok
This story is well written, but the subject matter may not be appealing to a vast audience. I had difficulty getting into the plot, and switching between character narratives and times was a bit awkward in some places.

This is the story of a marriage built on deception and nourished by mutual hatred. Ray is a cheating, less than forthright detective married to Mary, a disillusioned, cold-hearted nurse. When Ray is declared a hero after a hurricane hits Toronto in the 1950's, Mary begins to see f
Oct 13, 2012 Emilie rated it really liked it
Best lines:

You see, if we had separated long ago perhaps I would have lost innumerable moments like this. And given the pain they cause us, the pain they cause me, the infinite regret, I would choose that. Yes, let us consign the beautiful bits to oblivion, I say, rather than have them cower here, fetid little ghost children, illuminating nothing more than this dank shadowland we have picked as our lot in life.

Your problem here, the fatal flaw, is that you can't change the truth.

I was frustratin
Carly Svamvour
Jun 09, 2011 Carly Svamvour rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book. It's odd, but I do not remember Hurricane Hazel. I was 11 at the time. Yet the hurricane I remember most was one before it that year ... it happened in the summer. Our family rented at cottage at Lake Scugog. During the week, my father, my aunt and grandparents stayed at home in Toronto.

That left my mother with me, at 11, my cousin at 8 and my brother at around 5 or so, at the cottage during the storm caused by the tail end of another American hurricane. When I say tail end
Miz Moffatt
Oct 23, 2010 Miz Moffatt rated it liked it
The Carnivore traces the dissolution of a marriage blown off course in the aftermath of Toronto's infamous Hurricane Hazel. In 1954, a young police officer, Ray Townes, attains a near-mythic status as reports of his bravery at the Humber River circulate in the days after the hurricane hits. Even as his peers gild his name in the presses, Ray fears the worst as rescue teams threaten to dredge up the truth from the muddied waters...

On the same night, Mary Townes, a nurse at St. Joseph's Hospital a
Kristy Trauzzi
Feb 21, 2010 Kristy Trauzzi rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Maybe if you're looking for a Canadian read
Recommended to Kristy by: Book club
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Linda B
Aug 09, 2010 Linda B rated it it was amazing
The Carnivore is a story of love, marriage, and infidelity that begins at the time of the devastating hurricane and subsequent floods that stormed through Toronto in 1954. Ray Townes, a police officer, is in the eyes of the public a hero. Mary Townes, a nurse, takes care of the dying and wounded at St. Joseph’s Hospital in the chaotic aftermath of the storm. The depiction of the storm, and especially the chaos in the Emergency Room was very realistic.

The book is also a profound look back over th
Jun 25, 2015 Tabitha rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm struggling to understand how this book won an award. I've never felt so much disdain for two characters in my life, not to mention wanting to stab each of them in the eye with a pen dipped in STFU.

Thankfully this book was a quick 256 pages or I would never have seen it through to the end. Even having taken one day of my life to read this feels like Sinnett owes me 24 hours of my life back. The only solace is take is knowing that he spent far more time writing it than I wasted reading it.

Apr 24, 2013 Amy rated it liked it
Interesting perspective on how mistruths, omissions and outright lies can alter a married couple differently. The story alternates between the two main characters recounting their lives together, with each chapter ending with a tease of something more dramatic to come. At first, felt as though I wanted to skip over the other character's chapter to find out what mystery was being alluded to, but then wound up so wrapped up in the new narrative that I all but forgot about the previous character's ...more
Jan 14, 2011 Rachel rated it really liked it
Shelves: canlit, fiction, 2011reads
This book was the winner of the 2010 Toronto Book Awards. I haven't read all the nominees yet, but so far I'd say this is my favourite. It's about a husband and wife in Toronto, from the horrific floods in 1954 up to the present day. The husband was a police officer, and hailed as a hero during the flood, but he has some secrets from that day and the consequences created a rift between him and his wife that lasted for years. I would have liked more of how the city dealt with the flood, but I lik ...more
Dec 13, 2016 Alison rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
Didn't make it past the 15% mark. Despite the looming event of Hurricane Hazel, I found this book to be a snooze. The main characters were boring and unlikable.
Jill Moore
Dec 27, 2010 Jill Moore rated it it was amazing
I thought this was a great book. It was character driven and still a page turner. I read the the whole thing over one week. I found it so enjoyable, I'm going to vote for it for my friends to read, and I gave a copy to my mother (also an avid reader).
Judy Mayhew
Jul 10, 2012 Judy Mayhew rated it really liked it
The story of a marriage in trouble set against the backdrop of Hurrican Hazel as it ripped through Southern Ontario in 1954. An interesting read for anyone who lived through Hazel and its aftermath. Thoroughly researched, stark, unapologetic.
Nick Hahn
Oct 19, 2012 Nick Hahn added it
Shelves: fiction
Great read, historical fiction novel about devastating Toronto Hurricane in the 1950's, story has it all: drama, suspense, intrigue, infidelity relationships~don't miss it, available now in print edition coming soon in audiobook narrated by Nick Hahn
May 21, 2012 Bree rated it did not like it
Shelves: couldnt-finish, 2009
I gave up about halfway through, it just felt that the story was going nowhere VERY slowly...I couldn't do it.
Jan 05, 2014 C rated it liked it
A good book and a good look at how a marriage is affected quickly by events and slowly by bitterness. Bonus was that it took place in Toronto.
Nov 15, 2014 Cindyloo rated it really liked it
Perceptive writing, depressing premise: A betrayal in a marriage and the fierce bitterness that follows. Really a 3.5, but I'll round up.
Virgie Taylor
Virgie Taylor rated it it was amazing
Sep 14, 2012
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May 12, 2015
Skot rated it really liked it
Nov 03, 2009
Alison rated it liked it
Mar 13, 2012
Steph VanderMeulen
Aug 19, 2010 Steph VanderMeulen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-favourites
You can see my review for this book at
Tom rated it liked it
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Oct 23, 2011
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