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.