Book Review

And Fire Came Down by Emma Viskic

Book Summary

Deaf since early childhood, Caleb Zelic is used to meeting life head-on. Now, he’s struggling just to get through the day. His best mate is dead, his ex-wife, Kat, is avoiding him, and nightmares haunt his waking hours.

But when a young woman is killed, after pleading for his help in sign language, Caleb is determined to find out who she was. The trail leads Caleb back to his hometown, Resurrection Bay. The town is on bushfire alert, and simmering with racial tensions. As Caleb delves deeper, he uncovers secrets that could ruin any chance of reuniting with Kat, and even threaten his life. Driven by his own demons, he pushes on. But who is he willing to sacrifice along the way?

What I Thought

This is the second book in the Caleb Zelic series and, like Resurrection Bay, is relentless in its pacing as Caleb once again is trust into the centre of a murder mystery. Continuing a few months on from the aftermath of events that took place in book one, Caleb, beset by nightmares, is barely making a go of it and struggling physically and mentally. When, out for a run, he’s approached by a homeless man and given a cryptic note asking for help. Unable to resist, of course, Caleb follows the down-and-out to a dark alley and, everything from there on in goes to hell in a hand basket!

Poor Caleb, you have got to feel for this guy. So well written by Viskic he feels like someone you know or should know—a friend of a friend—he seems so familiar. Fighting the world on several fronts not least of which is battling through an ordinary day dealing with talking people, we get to know so much more about Caleb, and just how hard it is to be deaf in a speaking, hearing world. Viskic does an outstanding job of making us feel and live through Caleb’s eye. And yes, his ears too. Every missed word, every simple situation made all the more difficult by the obstacles he faces. 

But Caleb is undaunted by his hearing impairment, and though he struggles, it’s made him who he is, more acutely aware of others in a way we cannot comprehend. And Viskic really reflects this so well in her writing. How he interacts with others and, just as importantly, how they, in turn, interact with him. It’s all so brutally honest.

It’s also both jarring, and so cleverly done. This is what makes for a far more interesting read, because Viskic’s characters are working within this framework, along with us, the reader. Making Caleb one hell of an interesting character never mind he’s determined, stubborn to a fault, and never, but never give up once he’s committed to doing something. In this case, finding out who killed the woman in the red dress.

With plenty of mystery, false leads, any number of ruses and misdirects, Viskic keeps things moving along at a decent pace, and never flags with both the plot, details, or character involvement. Even down to the secondary characters carried over from Resurrection Bay. We’re treated to more details and background, learn more about the community itself, where Caleb grew up, including more involvement with his younger fucked up brother, Ant.

It all makes for a thoroughly absorbing read. I was so invested in what was going on, I read this one in three very nail biting sittings. So determined to find out what was going on, who the killer or, killers, where, and whether or not we’d see Caleb get back together with Kat, his estranged wife. 

And Fire Came Down takes on a lot and delivers lightning in a bottle for a second time. Tense, fraught, razor-sharp observations and, as I said, relentless. Caleb takes us on another journey of discovery, both personal and emotionally, as well as thematically. And while the ending ties up a number of threads by the end, it also poses a few more that we just know are going to be answered in the next instalment, in Darkness For Light. 

While this might read OK as a standalone, I suggest reading Resurrection Bay first, as it will give more depth and background to the characters, plot, and setting. Never mind, just what makes Caleb tick.

Another outstanding read from beginning to end, I highly recommend this series. 

4 comments on “And Fire Came Down by Emma Viskic

  1. Avatar

    There are not many books with a main character who’s deaf (I only know one other series) but I like this diversity and that it feels real in this novel and I have a feeling there’s nothing not to like about Caleb by the sound of this. I should add this one to my list. Thanks for the great review Alex!

    • Alex

      Oh, I think you would love this series, Inge. Caleb is one of those memorable characters and so unique, but it’s Emma’s storytelling that really pulls it all together. She really brings the characters to life, and you feel every win and every defeat. Then, of course, the landscape itself is a whole other character in her work too. I cannot yell loud enough how much I have enjoyed this series, so far!

  2. Avatar

    Ahh, a disabled main character in a crime book! This sounds v interesting, great review

    • Alex

      Caleb is a wonderfully written character, Arina. And yes, his disability powers certain aspects of the plot making this a really interesting series as seen from a different POV, for a change.

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