Emma Viskic took the Australian crime fiction scene by storm in 2015 with her thrilling, multi-award winning debut novel, Resurrection Bay. Now she’s back with her latest thriller And Fire Came Down, along with her loveable, flawed creation, private investigator Caleb Zelic.
This time Caleb, out for a jog on the streets of Melbourne, is collared by a homeless guy he’s never seen before. The guy hands him a note from a woman in grave danger, a woman Caleb’s never met, and yet the message has his name and address on it. The cry for help comes too late though and Caleb helplessly watches as the woman dies in the street, unable to elude her persecutor.
Traumatised by witnessing the mysterious woman’s last breaths, and still reeling from episodes in the previous book – where his soon-to-be-ex-wife Kat almost met a grisly end and his long-time friend and business partner Frankie betrayed him in the worst possible way – Caleb pursues the mysterious trail of violence back to his hometown, Resurrection Bay .
Here the local Koori community, including his doctor mother-in-law, with whom he’s interwined by his troubled relationship with wife Kat, is dealing with threats and violence and the influx of drugs. The community is under threat and Caleb must negotiate his own delicate relationships with his in-laws, while dealing with the casual racists that populate this small town and trying to unravel the mystery of the dead woman. Why was she seeking his help? Who sent her? And what has this got to do with the drug trade in Resurrection Bay?
Viskic has woven another clever and intriguing plot in which Zelic, the profoundly deaf PI, navigates his way through his almost disastrous professional and personal life in his own inimitable way. What he lacks in hearing skills – it’s a problem if people won’t face him when speaking as he needs to read their lips and he’s always wary of asking for help – he makes up for in hyper awareness of other giveaway clues, with his astute reading of people’s faces (as long as their expression isn’t frozen by botox as is the case with one receptionist he interrogates).
This is a plot that keeps us guessing to the end as it delves into the grimy world of drug dealing, local loyalties and small town hostilities. It’s a realistic and gritty portrayal of a town and its people, a town the tourists swiftly move from when they find out there’s no artisan bread. It’s visceral in its detail and evocative of real life as pressure builds, with racial tensions simmering and a catastrophic bushfire danger closing in. It reaches a dramatic but ultimately hopeful resolution and now we can only wait on tenterhooks for the next instalment.
Viskic takes her place up there with Australia’s new legion of uber-talented female crime writers such a Jane Harper and Candice Fox, deservedly so.
Emma Viskic is an award-winning Australian crime writer. Her critically acclaimed debut novel, Resurrection Bay, won the 2016 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction, as well as an unprecedented three Davitt Awards: Best Adult Novel, Best Debut, and Readers’ Choice. Resurrection Bay was iBooks Australia’s Crime Novel of 2015. She has also won the Ned Kelly and Thunderbolt Awards for her short form fiction. A classically trained clarinettist, Emma’s musical career has ranged from performing with José Carreras and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, to busking in the London Underground. Emma studied Australian sign language (Auslan) in order to write Resurrection Bay.
Grab a copy, start reading here, check out Emma’s favourite book titles, and read about the inspiration behind ‘And Fire Came Down’.