Book Review: The Canary Keeper – Clare Carson

Book Review: The Canary Keeper – Clare Carson

Release Date:
February 6th 2020
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Pages: 384
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy to review
Rating: 3/5 stars


“In the grey mist of the early morning a body is dumped on the shore of the Thames by a boatman in a metal canoe. The city is soon alive with talk of the savage Esquimaux stalking Victorian London and an eye witness who claims the killer had an accomplice: a tall woman dressed in widow’s weeds, with the telltale look of the degenerate Irish.

Branna ‘Birdie’ Quinn had no good reason to be by the river that morning, but she did not kill the man. She’d seen him first the day before, desperate to give her a message she refused to hear. And now the Filth will see her hang for his murder, just like her father.

To save her life, Birdie must trace the dead man’s footsteps. Back onto the ship that carried him to his death, back to cold isles of Orkney that sheltered him, and up to the far north, a harsh and lawless land which holds more answers than she looks to find…


The Canary Keeper is the dark and compelling story of set in Victorian London. When a body is discovered on the banks of the the Thames an eye witness claims that the killer’s accomplice is a young Irish woman living London. Her father was hanged for murder and soon she becomes caught up in the murder, with the police accusing her of being the killer’s accomplice. In order to clear her name Birdie has to flee for her life and to trace the footsteps of the man she is accused of killing. Her search takes her to the remote town of Orkney where she begins to find that there is more to this murder than she could possibly have realised.

The Canary Keeper was a really interesting story, with plenty of twists I didn’t guess. It kept me guessing right till the very end – I didn’t figure out who was behind the mysteries until they were revealed. Carson creates a really strong sense of atmosphere and I really loved the two contrasting settings – the murky, dark banks of the Thames and the wild harsh landscape of Orkney.

While I enjoyed the mystery I did find the book quite slow paced and particularly around the middle I found the story dragging a little. I wanted to know who was behind the mystery and unravelled a bit slowly for my liking. Despite this I still found the book a really fascinating one and really liked the strong female characters that Carson brought to life in this story.

The Canary Keeper is an atmospheric and enjoyable read, particularly for a dark winter evening. If you’re a fan of historical mystery/thrillers this would definitely be one to pick up.

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