And Fire Came Down by Emma Viskic

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