Five Reasons to Read Canary by Duane Swierczynski

Posted 26 March, 2015 by Heather in Blog, Book Review, Heather, Heather Book Review / 0 Comments

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Five Reasons to Read Canary by Duane SwierczynskiCanary by Duane Swierczynski
Published by Hachette Audio on February 25, 2015
Genres: Action and Suspense, Drugs, Alcohol, Substance Abuse, Law & Crime, New Experience, Survival Stories, Thriller, Thrillers, Urban, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
4.5 Stars

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 midlevel 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 19-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 #137 turns out to be a very quick study....

Today I’m going to do things a little differently than my usual review style and tell you the Five Reasons why I think you should read or would enjoy Canary by Duane Swierczynski. I listened to the excellent audiobook provided by Hachette Audio.




Sarie takes being a confidential informant as serious as her college honors classes! She does research and writes things down in notebooks to make connections between different people. But most importantly,  she’s able to find different ways to get leads and get in with the drug dealers in Philadelphia. Her methods are more logical than those of her detective handler’s.


SuperSixSunday_2You get to see how Sarie’s work as a confidential informant affects not only her, but those around her daily. Both her father and brother notice her strange,  secretive behavior right away.  Even the best friend that Sarie hadn’t spoken to in several months knows something is wrong when Sarie is suddenly calling her again, wanting to see her as an excuse to get out of the house to talk to her handler without being questioned by her overprotective father. Will everyone be put in harm’s way just by being connected to Sarie?


SuperSixSunday_3Not every snitch move Sarie makes nets them a drug dealer, but they do turn up some really messed up criminals that lead to big busts.  But she learns quickly from her mistakes and what missteps she made when trying to get a toe into the drug underworld. Unfortunately,  she’s made a name for herself with dangerous people you don’t want to remember you.



SuperSixSunday_4Ben Wildey is a good intentioned,  honest,  hard working detective–but he has a dark side too. He won’t let police corruption or an unending drug war wear him down. But disappearing confidential informants are worrisome,  and if he loses his best C.I. yet–Sarie–he doesn’t know what he’ll do. He pushes her too hard to give up who he thinks is her drug dealing boyfriend, which in turn just makes her delve deeper into the dangerous Philly world of drug gangs and the mob. He doesn’t understand while “honors girl” won’t just flip and take the easy way out, but he grows to care about her well being and even be a bit impressed with how smart, resourceful, and tough she becomes.

SuperSixSunday_5You get an exciting look at everything in this book through several point of views! Sarie’s chapters start off with her writing to her deceased mother in a journal,  and it’s full of sadness, hope and memories,  but you get a clear sense of the loss Sarie is still dealing with one year after her mother passed.  Wildey’s chapters are much more hard boiled and true detective,  and is great to see everything going on outside of Sarie with the police and other seedy characters. There’s a few criminal point of views as well,  which I really enjoyed.


The  reason why I gave it 4.5 instead of 5 was because Sarie didn’t give up Drew when she was arrested. She barely knew him,  but instead of owning up to the fact that the drugs in her car were his, she kept protecting him until the end.  It was just a bit unrealistic in that aspect.

Bewitched Rating

 Rating 4.5

Bottom Line

Canary by Duane Swierczinsky is a fast paced, thrilling crime novel. It’s a gritty, twisting and turning look at the drug trade from the small time dealer up to the cartel level, all while exploring what it’s like for a girl forced to be a confidential drug informant when she’s not even involved in that world. In the process of finding other drug dealers to serve up to Wildey when she won’t give up her friend’s name, she finds that she’s surprisingly good at investigating and toeing the line of legality.


Have you read Canary or any of Duane Swierczynski’s other novels? Do you have any plans to read it? I highly recommend listening to the audiobook of Canary. The two narrators do an excellent job of keeping the fast pace and building the tension throughout the book!



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I'm a PhD chemist who loves sarcasm, music, and books-paranormal, mystery, thriller, suspense, horror, and romance. Most of my free time is spent at the martial arts studio these days--whether practicing Combat Hapkido or reading books while watching my son's Taekwondo classes, or even working up a sweat with Kickboxing for fun. Goodreads

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