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Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic

Author: Emma Viskic
Publisher: Pushkin Press
ISBN: 9781782273622
Genre: Crime Fiction

Back Cover Blurb

Caleb Zelic can’t hear you. But he sees everything.

His childhood friend has been brutally murdered—fingers broken, throat slit—at his home in Melbourne. Tortured by guilt, Caleb vows to track down the killer. But he’s profoundly deaf; missed words and misread lips can lead to confusion, and trouble.

Fortunately, Caleb knows how to read people; a sideways glance, an unconvincing smile, speaks volumes. When his friend Frankie, a former cop, offers to help, they soon discover the killer is on their tail

Sensing that his ex-wife may also be in danger, Caleb insists they return to their hometown of Resurrection Bay. But here he learns that everyone—including his murdered friend—is hiding something. And the deeper he digs, the darker the secrets…

What I Thought

First of all, let me just begin by saying this debut novel by Aussie author, Emma Viskic, is outstanding. Truly a remarkable novel on just about every level. It’s not long, at just 280 pages, so I read this in one frantic, page-turning day! 

Let’s start with the well crafted, well delineated characters. I love Caleb Zelic who narrates the story. He’s such a great down-to-earth character, feisty and oh so different from the usual MC in that he just happens to be deaf. This makes for a wholly unique POV both in the visuals and descriptions, and more, the dialogue. 

Choppy and jarring, we see the world how Caleb hears it. With broken sentences that obviously make for a few comic and laugh out loud moments. And, of course, because of this handicap, we feel every ounce of Caleb’s frustration. His determination to not to give in, stubborn to the last. Which inevitably causes clashes with both his work partner, Frankie—who, by the way, is another excellently flawed character—and his ex-wife, Kat. It’s only when we learn why Kat and Caleb spilt that we understand the weight of emotions involved. 

This thread of the plot is wonderfully written. The tug and pull between the two characters are at the heart of Caleb’s state of mind. And provide a lot of the backstory to Caleb. And I love Kat as a character too, along with her family, of whom I’m sure, we’ll see a lot more of. I especially want more of Kat’s mother, Maria!

And then there’s Frankie—Caleb’s 57 year-old, ex-cop partner and on the wagon drunk—with an acerbic wit who’s a great counterbalance to Caleb. Throw in a clutch of secondary characters that were so well written, I felt like I knew them. And Viskic has assembled the perfect cast for this taught, tense mystery full of twists and turns I was caught out several times.

The plotting is superb, as we follow Caleb and Frankie trying to figure out why Caleb’s friend, Gary, has been murdered while investigating a fraud case. What on the surface seems straightforward enough, becomes a deadly race against time, as one by one, people close to the case begin turning up dead. 

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed Resurrection Bay and the almost, at times, poetic descriptions Viskic writes:

“. . . she was a study in tones: her skin a smooth wash of burnt umber, sienna touches to her hair, the unexpected flash of blue eyes. The genes from all her Koori ancestors distilled to a heady perfection.”

There are moments of heart-pounding terror, as seen through Caleb’s eyes, to moments of joy and heartbreak with ex-wife, Kat. And some very funny moments with Frankie, that keep this one light and entertaining, counterbalancing the moments of off-camera violence when the heavies start to slice-and-dice people. And then, there’s an ending I never saw coming, as Viskic throws in a cleverly disguised curve-ball that threw me for a loop.

This is an amazing debut, with believable characters, brisk pacing and plotting that might make your head turn in the wrong direction. Hang on for the ride. Now, I can’t wait to read the second in the series, And Fire Came Down. 

WWW Wednesday

Bonjour tout la monde: WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Worlds where we will answer the following questions.

  • What are you currently Reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

While this is a weekly meme, I think I’ll only be doing it when I’m just about to finish a book—and about to start a new one—which makes more sense, right?

What I’m currently reading:

I’m reading an ARC sent to me by Titan books, the first book in a SF trilogy, Embers of War by Gareth L. Powell, but I’m struggling. What should have taken me about 3 evenings to read, has taken all weekend, and we’re now Wednesday and I still haven’t finished it. It’s not that it’s a bad book, just not a great one. Frustrating to say the least.

What did I recently finish reading:

I just recently finished reading Bitter Medicine by Sara Paretsky, which was an excellent read. You can always rely on Paretsky and her V.I. Warshawski series to provide a thoroughly engrossing read.

What I plan on reading next:

I’m excited to read And Fire Came Down by Emma Viskic this coming weekend which, truth be told, has been sat on my TBR for some time now. But, as I joined in to do the #OcTBRChallenge, in which you tackle left over books on your TBR, I’ve managed to read through a few. Some good, some not so great. But at least the pile is shrinking.

And you, what are you currently reading, or thinking of reading next?

Top Ten Tuesday: Really Long Titles

It’s been a long while since I did one of these, but I thought to get back into the habit of doing a few, and thought to start with Top Ten Tuesday—Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018.

Today’s challenge is, Long Titles.

Now, this is great if you are reading a lot of self published fantasy as, at the moment, there are a few books doing the rounds, online, that have really great titles. But crime fiction, or a thriller? Not so much. Most authors and, I think, publishers too, prefer something short and snappy or, at most, 3-4 words in length.

They go for strong, in-your-face The Whisperer, The Liar, The Silenced. Titles that leave no doubt to the fact we’re in crime fiction territory. But all that aside, here we go, I’m digging deep to try find some really lengthy titles to fulfil this one.

  • A DARKNESS MORE THAN LIGHT by Michael Connelly

Okay, so I had to cheat. Cheat BIG time to find ten titles, by including the four books I’ve read by Alan Bradley who, as you can see, loves his long titles. With the last two being both fantasy books I read recently.

Fantasy being more inclined to go for long descriptive titles. Some of them incredibly funny too if you look at: The Thief Who Pulled On Trouble’s Braids or The Thief Who Spat In Luck’s Good Eye, both by Michael McClung. I mean, come on, even if you don’t normally read fantasy, wouldn’t you want to read both of these just to find out more about those great titles?

And you, what really long titled books have you read recently, if any?

Blood on the Tracks by Barbara Nickless

Title: BLOOD ON THE TRACKS (Sydney Rose Parnell #1)
Author: Barbara Nickless
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
ISBN: 9781503936867
Genre: Crime Fiction

Back Cover Blurb

A young woman is found brutally murdered, and the main suspect is the victim’s fiancé, a hideously scarred Iraq War vet known as the Burned Man. But railroad police Special Agent Sydney Rose Parnell, brought in by the Denver Major Crimes unit to help investigate, can’t shake the feeling that larger forces are behind this apparent crime of passion.

In the depths of an icy winter, Parnell and her K9 partner, Clyde ― both haunted by their time in Iraq ― descend into the underground world of a savage gang of rail riders. There, they uncover a wide-reaching conspiracy and a series of shocking crimes. Crimes that threaten everything Parnell holds dear.

As the search for the truth puts her directly in the path of the killer, Parnell must struggle with a deadly question: Can she fight monsters without becoming one herself?

What I Thought

What is compelling about Blood on the Tracks is that it is tough and gritty, dark and brutal, but also, in places, uplifting and hopeful. And while essentially a murder mystery cut with a great deal of taut suspense, it’s also about family and the bonds of extended family. How they can be both fragile and yet, so strong, as to bind and blind us at the same time.

Like many of the secondary characters, Sydney Rose Parnell is a scarred Iraqi war vet troubled by her past and what she saw in the war. Not only that, she has a deep dark secret she’s sworn never to reveal that, later in the story, threatens to consume her. The more she finds out about the events that shaped her state of being in the here and now, the more troubled she becomes by the revelations. Leaving her wondering who can she trust? An answer that is left open ended and a thread, I am sure, that will be explored in subsequent instalments.

This intriguing side plot effects events as they unfold in the main story, as Parnell searches for a killer. And while we are presented with one person being the possible suspect, Nickless muddies the water when it becomes obvious, this isn’t as clear cut as it seems. We’re presented with a number of other possible scenarios, and the further Sydney digs beneath the surface, tugging at loose threads that reveal more is going on, the more we are drawn down into darker depths.

The stories woven in between the hunt for a killer, highlight a savage underbelly of Nazi-loving skinheads, ritualistic murders, childhood gangs and, ultimately, revenge. And as Sydney and her K9 partner, Clyde, along with Denver murder detective, Cohen, dig, the more they are disgusted by what they find.

Well written, this is at times, taut, fast paced and deeply introspective, as we learn a great deal about the events that shaped Sydney, and her life in Iraq. Eventful, impactive, and revealing, this might be a search for a killer, but it is also so much more. The author really takes us on a journey into bitter events that shape us, and how those events affect us years and decades later. 

I found the author’s writing style easy to read, and, considering this is a debut novel, it was extremely well crafted. From the settings and sense of place, to the depth of all the characters involved, to the pacing which constantly kept us on our toes. This is a thoroughly well researched and written first offering that swallowed me up, as I walked side by side with Sydney and Clyde, a partnership I can’t wait to read more of. 

The bond between woman and dog essential in making this work, and done to perfection. There is emotional depth and heartfelt feeling here, as we understand how broken and yet, how strong Sydney is, when faced with troubling events and even harder decisions.

Thoroughly immersive, Blood on the Tracks, is both a taut page-turning thriller and a heart-wrenching character study. If you love a good twisted mystery, characters that are darkly shaded by their past, and stories that may well haunt you, then I highly recommend you read this one.