Friday, November 13, 2015

What we're reading: Thriller

Although I found Canary on the adult New Fiction shelf, after reading it all I could think was that someone should nominate it for an Alex Award, because although it would be appealing to adults, it's also the kind of thing I can see our high school book club teens devouring.

Sarie Holland is a 17-year-old honors student in her first year of community college. She has so far avoided the "party hearty" habit of most freshmen, instead opting to keep up her grades and bolster the spirits of her dad, who hasn't been the same since her mom died. But towards the end of the semester, she is persuaded into attending a party, where she makes a connection with D., a charismatic guy she has admired from afar. When he asks her for a lift home, even though it's way out of her way, she says yes; then he asks if she can make a stop along the way, so he can "pick up a book from a friend." She realizes that he's actually using her to make a drug run, but by the time she figures this out, he has taken off, leaving his drugs in her car to be discovered by a lurking policeman. She is (foolishly) loyal to D., so she refuses to give him up; the cop, a Philly narcotics officer named Ben Wildey, is looking to bust somebody higher up the chain, and thinks if he can keep his claws in her and threaten prosecution (five years for possession), she'll rat out her "boyfriend," who will lead him to bigger players. Instead, Sarie turns herself into the perfect Confidential Informant by scouring Philly to find alternate people to sacrifice to Wildey. As he continues to hound her, she lets her desperation make her take risky chances that bring her to the attention of the wrong people...

Some of the events of this book are so preposterous that you find yourself saying "C'mon!" at regular intervals as you read it. And yet, it's so well plotted, with such an engaging voice, that you keep reading despite your doubts. It reminded me of The Lock Artist, by Steve Hamilton, one of my faves that was also highly rated by high school book club. Readers of previous books by Duane Swierczynski compare Canary unfavorably to his other works, but if that's the case, then this is a guy whose books I need to seek out, because I thought it was a real page-turner! It has multiple points of view done well, lots of twisty turns in the plot, and a stellar ending. Teens and adults, check it out!

1 comment:

Duedsml said...

Glad you enjoyed The Canary, I did too! I am a huge Duane Swierczynski fan [can even spell his last name without looking it up!] One of the fun things that I enjoy with his thrillers is that yes, indeed, sometimes his plots crossover into the seemingly improbable but much like when James Bond is in danger in his movies, the real fun is seeing him write his characters out of danger. Try his Severance Package or his Charlie Hardy trilogy for more over-the-top action and fun. Swiercyznski first popped onto my reading radar [and this blog] back in 2007 with The Blonde. definitely a lesser known author who is always on top of my reading list when he publishes a new book.