cover image Canary


Duane Swierczynski. Little, Brown/Mulholland, $26 (400p) ISBN 978-0-316-40320-7

The wild plotting that Shamus Award–winner Swierczynski pulled off in his intentionally over-the-top Charlie Hardie series (Fun and Games, etc.) doesn’t work in this implausible story of Sarie Holland, an honors student at a Philadelphia college, who ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Through Sarie’s diary entries, written to her dead mother, the reader follows her as she agrees to drive a drunken classmate, D., to pick up a book. Instead, D. has Sarie drop him off in front of a house being watched by Benjamin Wildey, a narcotics officer. Wildey takes Sarie into custody after finding drugs belonging to D. in her car. To avoid jail time, she becomes a police informant. In one amusing scene in a diner, Wildey uses condiments to explain the drug trade to Sarie, but such memorable moments are few and far between, and her transformation from naïve to street savvy isn’t convincing. [em]Agent: David Hale Smith, Inkwell Management. (Feb.) [/em]