Book Review: Canary by Duane Swierczynski

By Duane Swierczynski
Released 2/24/15
Downloaded free through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Rating: 4 bones

Great book.  I really enjoyed diving in the wild life of Sarie each night for the past week.  This book was the perfect example that one little decision could change your life forever.

That’s exactly what happened to honors student Sarie Holland.  We don’t get much background jumping right into the story, but one evening at a seemingly generic college party a boy asks her for a ride.  Knowing she probably shouldn’t based on an early morning commitment, she does anyway.  She then proceeds to get busted for drugs (which she doesn’t do) and becomes a CI (confidential informant) for the local police.

At first, I felt bad for Sarie.  I wanted to plead her case to the cops, no prior offences – just at the wrong spot with the wrong person at the wrong time.  But then we moved into Sarie’s actions.  She decides to protect her new friend that caused this trouble.  Why?  Still not sure, she could have easily thrown him under the bus and been on her way.  But what fun would that be for a story!?  She moves into trying to find an alternative to ratting out her new friend and dove right into the deep underground drug world of Philadelphia.

Her cop buddy, Ben Wildey, is her “handler”.  Wildey’s been working the drug scene for a while and wants to find a big fish (or I think he refers to it as a mustard bottle in this book) to make a name for himself.  He originally has his eyes/mind set on one, but Sarie seems to be the key to so much more in her attempt to protect her friend.

This book has so much else going on as well.  Sarie’s home life came up a lot, including an extra nosy little brother.  Her school life and newfound relationship with the drug dude was another sidebar.  Then Wildey’s work colleagues and all their police drama.  And on top of all of that (which I’m sure I’m missing some still) a lot of CI’s are being murdered, so is there a rat too?

I’ll say it again – great book.  Kept me guessing what Sarie would do next.  She’s smart, unpredictable, and a great main character.  All of this led up to an action packed ending that had me hanging on til the very end.  Love the title too – perfect for this book.  Check it out!

Thanks to NetGalley and Mulholland Books for the ARC to review!

Book Description:

It’s dangerous enough when an ordinary college girl turns confidential informant. Even more dangerous when she’s smarter than the killer, kingpins, and cops who control her.
Honors student Sarie Holland is busted by the local police while doing a favor for her boyfriend. Unwilling to betray him but desperate to avoid destroying her future, Sarie has no choice but to become a “CI”–a confidential informant.
Philly narcotics cop Ben Wildey is hungry for a career-making bust. The detective thinks he’s found the key in Sarie: her boyfriend scores from a mid-level dealer with alleged ties to the major drug gangs.
Sarie turns out to be the perfect CI: a quick study with a shockingly keen understanding of the criminal mind. But Wildey, desperate for results, pushes too hard and inadvertently sends the nineteen-year-old into a death trap, leaving Sarie hunted by crooked cops and killers alike with nothing to save her–except what she’s learned during her harrowing weeks as an informant.
Which is bad news for the police and the underworld. Because when it comes to payback, CI #1373 turns out to be a very quick study…


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