Canaryville by Charlie Newton [9/10]

Charlie Newton marries the writing chops of Elmore Leonard to an over-the-top, gritty thriller sensibility that feels old-fashioned to me, perhaps channeling Alistair MacLean. Last year’s Privateers was a hoot to read without transcending its extravagant plot, but now this underrated author has written the standout book of his career. “Canaryville” is at once an ode to an iconic Irish-American suburb of Chicago and a kinetic thriller plucked straight from the headlines. When a bomb massacre occurs in Canaryville, accompanied by lurid killings nearby, the great industrial city is poised on the edge of a new white-black war, and the only one who can track down the killer is police officer Denny Banahan, child of Canaryville and now embroiled in controversy, ready to retire and in love. The author is a master of controlled pell-mell plotting, the huge cast of riveting characters is wonderfully portrayed, and the bleak, black, humorous dialogue enriches every page. Throw in a villain creepy enough to out-creep Hannibal Lecter, and Canaryville is an immersive triumph that must be read in one sitting.

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