“Resurrection Bay” by Emma Viskic is an outstanding Australian crime novel with a distinctive hero.
Caleb Zelic is an investigator, doing a lot of insurance work. He asks his childhood friend Gary, now a Melbourne police officer, to help with a big job. As a direct result, Gary is brutally murdered. Caleb vows to find the killer.
He has a couple of clues, one being the name Gary included in his last desperate text to Caleb. But the name means nothing, so Caleb begins by backtracking over Gary’s investigation.
As he does so, it becomes clear that everyone is hiding secrets. He’s drawn back to their hometown, Resurrection Bay, and finds that the secrets aren’t confined to Melbourne.
As the violence escalates, so does Caleb’s urgency to identify Gary’s killers, and so does the shock factor of the secrets he uncovers.
This novel inclines towards the hardboiled style of writers like Peter Corris and Lawrence Block. Our hero is tough, but not invincible; the bad guys are violent, in a personal fists-and-knives way; it’s hard to know who to trust. The writing style is easy to read, but there’s a lot of meat in the content. There are enough clues that you could work the plot out, but they’re subtle enough to keep most readers guessing to the end.
I read “Resurrection Bay” on its’ first publication in 2015, and it’s now been re-issued at a great price. It stands up well to re-reading; although I of course knew the “who’s done what to who” answers, there was plenty to enjoy in re-visiting the characters.
And the characters are one of the things that makes this novel stand out. Caleb Zelic is deaf, having lost his hearing to illness at five years old.
Viskic has done an outstanding job of capturing the day to day experiences of being deaf. Deaf people are individuals, with different life experiences, degrees of deafness, and communication choices. However, there’s a bedrock of universality too, and that’s what Viskic depicts so well. Worrying about water getting into your hearing aid.
People accidentally sneaking up on you because you just don’t hear them. Frustration from people who don’t like repeating themselves. Frustration at yourself when you know you haven’t fully understood something. People who have met one deaf person and think they now understand the capabilities and limitations of all deaf people… so many small experiences which happen every day, and which shape how a deaf person interacts with the world.
Viskic shows an excellent understanding of these things, and of how they affect everything from ordering a coffee to solving a murder. Caleb is vivid and real, and his experiences ring true. His additional challenges add a different dimension to the task of solving a murder.
Other characters are equally strong, particularly Caleb’s business partner Frankie. An ex-cop, she’s an excellent investigator herself. She’s developed an understanding of some of his limitations, and generally accommodates them.
On the other hand, Caleb’s ex-wife Kat – also a strong and vivid character – expresses some of the frustrations often felt by those who care about a deaf person. She illustrates another dimension to Caleb’s character as well as rounding out our understanding of his life.
As a crime novel, it’s outstanding. There’s a challenging but credible plot that’s exposed in a well-paced series of events. It is further elevated by an unusual but vivid central character, and the author’s detailed understanding of some of his particular challenges.
I really enjoyed reading this and recommend it to all crime readers.
Copy courtesy of Echo Publishing (2015, 2022)
A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.
I’ve loved books for as long as I can remember, and I love sharing that joy.
I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember, across all genres. There’s not much I won’t at least try. I’ve been an enthusiastic book reviewer for years. I particularly enjoy discovering writers new to me, and sharing good writing with others.
My career has included time spent writing and editing technical documents, but it’s fiction that really moves me. I’ve reviewed for a number of different outlets over the years, and have been a judge in literary competitions.
I’m now raising little bookworms of my own, which brings a whole new kind of joy to sharing books.
More of my reviews can be found on my review blog www.otherdreamsotherlives.home.blog .