And Fire Came Down

Emma Viskic

And Fire Came Down
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And Fire Came Down

Emma Viskic

Deaf since early childhood, Caleb Zelic used to meet 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. And the trail leads straight to his hometown, Resurrection Bay. The town is on bushfire alert and simmering with racial tensions. As he delves deeper, Caleb uncovers secrets that could threaten his life and any chance of reuniting with Kat. Driven by his demons, he pushes on. But who is he willing to sacrifice along the way?

Review

Since Emma Viskic’s debut novel Resurrection Bay took out two of Australia’s biggest crime awards – the Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction and a slew of Davitt Awards – readers have been waiting for the sequel. Here it is: a spectacular return to the world of the brittle Caleb Zelic, a private investigator whose office has been moved by financial necessity into his apartment. A man trying very hard to not think about what sent him on this path: a murky trail of betrayal, unfinished business, and the haunting memory of a gun in his hand. Finally, things are no longer getting progressively worse… until, on a run through the streets of Fitzroy, a woman pleads for his help. But before he can give it, they’re accosted, and she bolts in front of a car and is killed. The note left in Caleb’s hand is his address, written down on the back of a train ticket from Resurrection Bay, and there it is again: the draw back home. There, a place of rough surf and community undercurrents that are impossible to fathom, Caleb searches for answers to a question he didn’t have time to understand.

Viskic’s voice is strong and clear. Caleb is a natural smartarse, the kind of protagonist you’d follow into the darkest of places, which is exactly where he’ll always head. His world can be a brutal one, cut through with slivers of hope, but not pulling any punches or holding back on the tasers. Viskic’s characters are diverse, not in a way that ticks boxes, but a natural extension of what Australia really is. Everyone has a history, a story told through speech, whether they mumble or speak clearly or VERY LOUD when they realise – though he’s constantly reticent to disclose it – that Caleb is deaf. And nothing has history like Resurrection Bay itself, a place of snarled and casual racism, of Koori family threads pulling tight in the wake of attack, of Caleb’s struggle to make new connections and hang desperately onto old ones. A darkly beautiful, assured sequel: here’s hoping for more.


Fiona Hardy blogs about Crime Fiction at readingkills.com and puts together the Dead Write column for the Readings Monthly newsletter.

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