Friday, March 4, 2016
Review of Canary by Duane Swierczynski (Mulholland, 2015)
The hook in Canary is an appealing one. The first time that a goody-too-shoes student does something stupid she is made to pay a heavy price, forced to choose between friendship, informing or prison. However, a weakness in the book’s plot is that she barely knows the person she is taking the rap for and it’s hard to believe that she’d sacrifice her own future for him. Added to that, the tale is propelled along by a number of fairly crude plot devices, barely believable twists, and a storyline that was somewhat telegraphed. Nonetheless, Canary is an entertaining read, held together by the likeability of the two main characters, Sarie, the resourceful student, and Wildey, an honest, caring cop, and their interactions, and a strong sense of place with respect to Philadelphia. The double narrative works well, swapping between their points-of-view, and also that of Sarie’s brother and father. And once the seemingly inevitable telegraphed ending is revealed as a false summit the tale gets interesting and gripping. The result is an enjoyable tale that requires a fair bit of suspension of disbelief.