Imagine that there is true evil in the world in the guise of demons. These demons have the capability of possessing humans and perverting them to suit their needs. Now imagine that these possessed humans have infiltrated government and world religions including religious hierarchy. This is the world that 12-year-old Jaimie Piper and her teacher Crockett Grey have been pushed into in The Canary List by Sigmund Brouwer.
Jaimie knows that there is someone or something after her and seeks protection from the only adult she feels she can trust, a teacher. Unfortunately that teacher is an unmarried male and he lives alone. Someone uses this to exploit the situation and remove Jaimie from Crockett's protection under the guise of him possibly being a pedophile and in possession of child pornography. It doesn't help that the one person that can attest to Jaimie staying outside of the home under the supervision of a woman, Crockett's elderly neighbor Nana, has disappeared. Throw a very restrained child psychologist (Dr. Madelyne Mackenzie) into the mix along with an exorcist (Father O'Hare), the foster care system, Satanism, a crazed stalker, add in the Catholic Church and a comatose Pope and you've got a mess.
The underlying premise to this story is that Jaimie is genetically predisposed toward being sensitive to the demon-possessed. She is, in effect, the "canary" in detecting evil. Although there are others like her around the world, they are few and far between. These women have been used by the Catholic Church for centuries to ensure that evil does not gain a hold on the church, especially its cardinals or would-be popes. The intrigue involved in uncovering who is and isn't evil within the church and their individual motives and power struggles made for some interesting reading. I had difficulty accepting the author's premise (yes I know it is fiction) that demons are using priests to exploit children as the excuse for the church-related pedophilia cases. The action was all over the place, much like a rollercoaster ride. At times it was hard to keep track of all of the scheming as well as plot twists and turns. I won't tell you how it ends but the ending left me saying "what?" and wondering what exactly had happened. The only characters that seemed realistic were Jaimie and Crockett. They had their flaws and frailties and weren't afraid to show them. This, in my opinion helped to show their humanity. The others were somewhat flat and seemed to be more caricatures than characters. The Canary List isn't a bad story nor was it badly written but there was just something that kept it from being little more than a decent read.
Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from the publisher through Blogging For Books. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."