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In 2015, Emma Viskic produced one of that year’s best crime novels. Resurrection Bay was a tour-de-force excursion into good, evil, and the labyrinth of human motivations. Even better, Viskic created a brilliant protagonist with the profoundly-deaf and irrepressibly obstinate Caleb Zelic, who returns as the lead in the fantastic noir thriller And Fire Came Down. 

Haunted by nightmares from the events of Resurrection Bay, his personal life a mess just as much as his professional one, Zelic is pulled back into the darkness when a young woman is killed in front of his eyes moments after pleading for his help in sign language. Determined to uncover her identity and discern the reason for her death, Caleb quickly discovers the trail leads straight back to his hometown. But Resurrection Bay is currently buckling from irrepressible racial tensions; not to mention the catastrophic bushfire alert that has the whole town on edge. Caleb’s homecoming couldn’t come at a worse time: and the consequence of his return could prove deadly for his loved ones.

Zelic is the traditional hardboiled detective: a tough, cynical, almost-broken guy, who solves cases with dogged persistence and an inability to let go, rather than astounding insight or, really, any speck of nuance. His deafness allows Viskic to pervert traditional scenarios and create obstacles that other investigators in the genre traverse with ease: for example, Zelic can’t eavesdrop on suspects; can’t hear his opponents sneak up on him. But importantly, his disability never undermines his investigatory capabilities. Sure, it lands him in trouble, but you get the feeling with or without his hearing, Zelic would stumble into the same situations. He’s just got that type of luck. He’s just that kind of man. Trouble follows him, and when it takes a break, he’s chasing it instead.

This is crime fiction at its best. Emma Viskic deserves a place near, perhaps at the top of, the Australian crime writers’ league. Loved Jane Harper’s The Dry? Read this. Loved Candice Fox’s Hades trilogy and Crimson Lake? Read this. Ever wanted to sample a slice of Australian crime and see what our local talent has to offer? And Fire Came Down is your book. No hyperbole, just fact: Viskic’s second book might well end up my favourite crime novel of 2017.


ISBN: 9781760402945
Format: Paperback
Imprint: Echo Publishing
Publisher: Bonnier Publishing Australia
Publish Date: 1-Aug-2017
Country of Publication: Australia

5 thoughts on “Review: And Fire Came Down by Emma Viskic

  1. Hi there Simon, loved your review of one of my fave authors, Emma.

    Not sure about your comparison with Candice Fox and Jane Harper though. Very different books by these two women. Candice really pushes the boundaries with her fiction – love her characters and plots. Jane’s book is more MOR and had a couple of issues for me – barns, fields and a river that reminded me of Wind in the Willows.

    I am really looking forward to reading Emma’s AFCD. Caleb Zelic was such a well drawn character in RB. The plot was fast and credible. The writing spare and spot on.

    cheers Janice

    1. Hey Janice,

      Totally agree that Harper / Viskic / Fox are very different authors stylistically, operating in the same genre. I would argue that their books are equally compulsive, however divergent their styles, which was the point I was tying to make at the end of my review (but quite possibly I could’ve articulated that better!)

      Either way though: if you loved RB you’ll love the sequel, I’m sure! 🙂

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, too!

  2. I loved Resurrection Bay and have been anxiously awaiting Viskic’s second novel. I have The Dry on my to be read stack but haven’t heard of Candice Fox. Will track her books down. We don’t see many books published by Australian women crime writers here in the US.

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