Tag: And Fire Came Down

And Fire Came Down by Emma Viskic

About the Book

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. 

WWW Wednesday

Bonjour tout la monde: welcome to WWW Wednesday, a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words in which we ask three simple questions:

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

So, what have I been up to?

What I’m currently reading:

I’m currently reading The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix. And I am so glad I chose to read this next out of the 4-5 books calling to me from my TBR. As this, as it turns out, has been the perfect read for this time of year. Not only featuring the ubiquitous vampire but the first couple of chapters of observational humour had me laughing so hard, I had to go back and re-read sections. This is going on my list of the best books of the year, that’s how good it’s been so far!

What did I recently finish reading:

I finished reading And Fire Came Down by Emma Viskic in record time, this weekend. Here again is another excellent, hard-hitting book that I just couldn’t put down. This is book 2 in Viskic’s the Caleb Zelic series that started with Resurrection Bay. And let me tell you, this is turning out to be one hell of a knock-out series, Caleb is one of those characters you just can’t help but root for. Watch out for my review this coming Friday!

What am I reading next:

Ah, that’s always the though question because, despite having a towering TBR with so many good books on, I never know until the last minute exactly which one of them I’m going to start. Yes, I know, it’s not indecision more that I’m a mood reader and, as such, have quite the eclectic mix in my reading pile just in case. Everything from fantasy and SF through to cozy mystery with some murder and mayhem, as you never know.

And you, what are you currently reading, or planning on reading next?

Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic

Title: RESURRECTION BAY
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.