Tangled Web UK Review September 2000
File Updated: 09/10/00
The Canary Thief The Canary Thief by Kate Stacey
pbk out October 00 (Piatkus) at 6.99
This is described in the blurb as a 'pitch-black debut novel' and though I do not quite know what this means, this new author certainly shows considerable promise in the quality of her writing.
It has a strange story-line, which concerns a twelve-year old boy, a truant from a broken home and an abusive father, who camps out in a deserted house where he buries canaries and a rabbit, whose throats he has cut. He finds the corpses of two strangled prostitutes and evades the police, then gets lumbered with a young baby to feed and care for, only to end up virtually a prisoner of a nosy old woman across the street. There is a strange organisation involved, which is an elite group of fallen women and the denouement is a bit confused. I wondered whether a boy of twelve would really act as this one does, but maybe kids have changed since my youth.
The characterisation is excellent and the dialogue realistic, though perhaps a little over-dramatic here and there. The main defect in an otherwise interesting book is the utterly unrealistic police investigation, as a PC (not even a DC!) seems to investigate two homicides almost single-handed, with some help from a WPC and occasional interference from a DI. If the constable spoke to the Inspector as is portrayed here, he would be up before his Superintendent next day on a disciplinary charge. Kate Stacey is a writer of promise, but she needs to watch a few episodes of 'The Bill' before tackling her next book

( Bernard Knight - Author of the highly acclaimed Crowner John series set in Medieval Devon)