Review: Those Who Perish by Emma Viskic

Four books deep into Emma Viskic’s oeuvre and it’s clear she’s one of the best contemporary practitioners of the private-eye genre. I’ve been a big fan from the start, called Resurrection Bay a tour-de-force back in 2015 before realising each successive offering was going to be better than its predecessor, and gloriously add to the overall grand tapestry of her overarching narrative: the (attempted) redemption of Caleb Zelic.

The easy pitch for the series is: deaf private eye obstinately confronts the corruption rife in his hometown of Resurrection Bay, while bungling every single one of his personal relationships. Those Who Perish follows that same basic throughline. While Caleb’s relationship with his pregnant ex-wife Kat seems back on track, his brother Anton has relapsed into his drug habit, and they’ve been estranged for months. An anonymous tip-off alerts Caleb to his whereabouts, which is into the sights of a sniper, who has already killed at least once. 

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Review: Darkness For Light by Emma Viskic

9781760685812In Darkness For Light, her third crime novel starring Caleb Zelic, Emma Viskic marries themes of loyalty, betrayal, friendship and love into a taut, exceptional thriller. While some writers settle for shaping their novels as instalments in an ongoing serial drama, each one intended to set up the next, Viskic seems determined to make each one count and resonate. No longer merely a bright star on the Australian crime-writing firmament, Emma Viskic should now be considered a master of the genre, and Caleb Zelic one of its most endearing protagonists: a flawed, valiant hero, hard-fisted yet soft-hearted, who’s impossible to dislike. 

ISBN: 9781760685812
Format: Paperback / softback
Pages: 304
Imprint: Echo Publishing
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publish Date: 3-Dec-2019
Country of Publication: Australia

Review: And Fire Came Down by Emma Viskic

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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

Review: Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic

Resurrection BayResurrection Bay is a tour-de-force excursion into good, evil, and the labyrinth of human motivations. Emma Viskic has created a brilliant protagonist in the profoundly-deaf, and irrepressibly obstinate Caleb Zelic, and has produced one of the year’s best crime novels.

When Caleb discovers the brutalised corpse of his childhood friend, Gary – a Melbourne cop – splayed in his home, he endeavours to prove his innocence and bring the killer(s) to justice. Partnered with his troubled friend and ex-cop Frankie, and reuniting with his ex-wife Kat, and estranged brother along the way, Caleb’s investigation is anything but straightforward. His only clue is a text message sent him moments before his death, but the name it provided – Scott – means nothing, and is frustratingly opaque. Worse still, the police don’t trust Caleb, and the deeper he probes, the clearer it becomes there is a dark, corrupt force operating freely in their ranks; and they will stop at nothing to keep Caleb from uncovering the truth. The novel’s final pages reveal that darkness has spread further than Caleb could ever have anticipated, and his refusal to back down has devastating consequences for those closest to him.

Caleb’s deafness leads to some interesting interactions with the novel’s cast. Frankie’s rudimentary AUSLAN skills give the narrative much-needed moments of levity, while other characters take advantage of the situation. Viskic does a wonderful job balancing the consequences of Caleb’s deafness, but in doing so, she never undermines her protagonist’s investigatory prowess. Caleb has been profoundly deaf since early childhood; he’s adapted to his reality, and is dogged in his approach, despite the inevitable moments of frustration.

Having won two of Australia’s premier crime fiction short story awards, Resurrection Bay is further validation of Emma Viskic’s status as a writer-to-watch. Her debut is stripped-down and raw, and packs one helluva punch.

ISBN: 9781760068769
ISBN-10: 1760068764
Format: Paperback (234mm x 153mm x mm)
Pages: 192
Imprint: Echo Publishing
Publisher: The Five Mile Press Pty Ltd
Publish Date: 01-Sep-2015
Country of Publication: Australia