Canary by Duane Swierczynski

Posted On 23 February 2015

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Just finished reading Canary by Duane Swierczynski.  This book whilst a step away from my love of SFF was fast paced and intriguing.

Set in Philadelphia the story revolves around a Hons Student (Sarie) who is unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and draw police attention.  Attention that sees her becoming a confidential informant to Ben Wildey – a narcotics cop.

To cut a long story short, Sarie, not wanting to hand over to the police the young man she was accompanying on the night of her bust, is going to go to all sorts of lengths to get the police off her case by doing a bit of undercover detective work and handing them somebody else.  Of course, in spite of Sarie’s smarts she isn’t a criminal and has no real idea of the danger she’s walking into.

There’s all sorts of family business going on here too.  Sarie’s mother died of cancer about 12 months earlier and her small family unit, (father and brother Marty) are struggling to continue.  Her father is in denial and uses alcohol to escape and Marty is usually fobbed off as too young to understand what’s really going on.

Sarie is a very likable character.  She’s undoubtedly naive but she’s quick to learn and good at research.  Of course being good at research doesn’t mean you’re suddenly an expert in the world of drugs.  Wildey – well you could be forgiven for being disappointed that he’s pushing Sarie so much but at the end of the day she’s a little minow that he’s using to catch something bigger and, again, he’s not a bad guy.  He earns something of a pittance, he lives in a rough neighbourhood and desperately wants to make things better.

Now at the same time as Wildey is pushing Sarie to come clean about who she was with the night she was arrested much bigger things are taking place in the drug world.  It seems that CIs are being disposed of one by one!  This makes it all the more frantic for Sarie to get off this particular hook but whilst she manages, primarily by chance, to come up with a couple of potential leads they’re not going to help her.

The story definitely checks out the dark and seedy elements of the underworld spot lighting drugs and the downward spiral that many find themselves on, murder, torture and dirty cops.  It’s not, however, a totally menacing read and doesn’t come across so bleak that you struggle to read.  The pace is fast and the author does an excellent job of making you care for the characters.  The finale itself is very tense and whilst there are a few raised eyebrow moments that are just a bit too convenient I found the ending very satisfying overall.

In terms of criticism – not sure how convinced I was about Sarie’s feelings for ‘D’ that she would feel the need to protect him to such an extent that not only would she potentially, at best, ruin her own future and, at worst, face a life threatening situation but that being said there was a sort of sweetness to that element given how very innocent she was.  And, how would this young innocent girl manage to pull the wool over the big baddies eyes – well, let’s just say things don’t always go according to her best laid plans.  I won’t spoil it though.

On the whole a fast paced and intriguing world – exactly how realistic it actually is in terms of the real world – well, I have absolutely no idea to be honest, but I enjoyed reading it nonetheless.

I received a copy of this through the publishers courtesy of Netgalley for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

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5 Responses to “Canary by Duane Swierczynski”

  1. Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    sounds like a nice change of pace. I do hate when things too conveniently fall into place, but sometimes everything else is so good, you just have to overlook it.

    • lynnsbooks

      Yeah, there was a few convenient set ups but on the whole I really enjoyed it and it was a refreshing change of pace.
      Lynn 😀

  2. romeorites

    Even from your review I could tell this was a fast paced novel. 😀

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