BOOK CLUB: Those Who Perish

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“Those Who Perish” by Emma Viskic is another strong Caleb Zelic crime novel. Continuing readers will love this, and it should, if there’s any justice, attract many new fans.

Caleb Zelic is, as often before, oscillating between depression, elation, fear and hope. The personal betrayals that he suffered in the previous novel (“Darkness for Light”) continue to reverberate; it’s a kind of grief that he hasn’t fully worked through. At the same time, his sometimes-estranged wife Kat is far advanced in pregnancy; after multiple previous losses, his hope and excitement are not so much tinged with fear as shot through with terror.

Previous events have also triggered a relapse in his brother Anton, a long term drug addict. Unable to locate him for months, when Caleb receives a message that Anton is in danger, he comes at a literal run. Despite Anton’s resistance, Caleb is intent on helping.

He soon finds that the isolated island where Anton is living is fraught with suspicion, secrets, and simmering resentments. Things don’t improve when a sniper starts terrorising the population, apparently trying to derail Caleb’s investigation.

The crime plot here is well worked out; truly tangled and hard to see coming. It nevertheless unravels in a completely believable fashion. Viskic’s style is laconic and hard-boiled. It’s remarkably easy to read, especially given the depths of emotion this novel carries.

One of the unique things about this series is that Caleb is deaf. Viskic writes with great sensitivity about the experiences of deaf people. She illuminates many experiences which are common to deaf people: trying to guess what’s been said; people who wilfully misunderstand his limits; people who deliberately try to “test” him or make it difficult for him. These are woven into the story in a matter of fact way. It’s just what Caleb has to deal with.

It’s also part of what makes Caleb distinctive. Viskic’s understanding of the day to day challenges and advantages (being able to take your hearing device off and enjoy the silence!) of deafness contribute to Caleb being a fully rounded character that most readers will empathise with.

This is a strong crime novel, given extra depth through Viskic’s sensitive understanding of a range of social issues: Caleb’s disability, Anton’s addiction, and the racism that the Indigenous community routinely encounter. It’s distinctively Australian, without needing overt signals; it just arises from the people and setting.

The last third of the novel was extremely hard to put down. Events were moving quickly, the tension was extremely high, and I still hadn’t worked out who was after Caleb or why. If the novel has a flaw, it lies here; I was so engaged with the action that I had to consciously slow down and go back to re-read a little to fully grasp the details of the plot. Few readers will be much bothered by that, however.

This is an outstanding crime novel. It’s also a smart and sensitive depiction of a lot of emotive issues. Crime readers will love it, but a wider readership interested in character-based stories should also appreciate it.

ISBN: 978-1-76068-677-2

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading Those Who Perish by Emma Viskic. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.

7 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Those Who Perish

  1. Thank you Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read this brilliant book. I absolutely loved it. The story was gripping and it had me on the edge of my seat the whole way through. I couldn’t put it down.

  2. Thank you @beautyandlacemag and @echo_publishing for the opportunity to read Those Who Perish by Emma Viskic. I’m so sorry Emma, I didn’t like the three word sentences, and the glitchy scenery and muddled characters. I persevered to Chapter 7 (page 38) and couldn’t invest any more time to this book. It’s a 2/10 from me.

  3. Those Who Perish by Emma Viskic is the 4th book in the Caleb Zelic series. I am really pleased that I had read the 1st in the series as that gave a good introduction to the characters so that I don’t feel that missing Books 2 & 3 was a problem. The story was fast paced and a good thriller but I didn’t like the writing style with the very short, abrupt sentences as I felt that I struggled to comprehend at times.

    Thanks to Beauty & Lace and Echo Publishing for introducing Caleb Zelic to me.

  4. Having just read Emma’s book Resurrection Bay was good as I received the above book title straight after so was accustomed to the main characters that were in the storyline but having said that, it could be easily read as a one off book also.

    I found it a bit gruesome in some bits but then I probably have a weak stomach when it comes to descriptions of things. Emma certainly describes these things in detail in some paragraphs.

    I found the book intriguing and certainly wanted to turn those pages to see what was happening.

    I enjoyed the storylines with Caleb and his brother Ant and again found myself also smiling at their antics as brothers. Like chalk and cheese they are.

    I would have loved to read more of Kat again as I found her a character that I wanted to know more. She is mentioned by Caleb as she is again pregnant and you really want to know if all things go well this time for her.

    There were times during the book that I couldn’t remember which character was who but just keep reading and it all falls into place.

    It is one of those crime books that you really want to know who the baddies are and during the last 40 pages, I was literally turning those pages over to find out.

    Having said in one of the above paragraphs I was pleased to read more of Kat towards the end. My lips are sealed.

    I found this storyline to be thrilling, scary at times, very descriptive and crime writing well written.

    I am guessing that Emma Viskic when growing up loved reading crime books and from that, she was able to create her own passion for crime but even more gruesome but compelling.

    Thanks Beauty Heaven and Echo Publishing for giving me the opportunity to read a book following Emma’s other one called Resurrection Bay. The character of Caleb is certainly endearing and knowing that he is deaf makes the storyline that little bit more exciting as I found myself thinking how would he sign for that?

  5. Thank you Beauty & Lace for the chance to read this book. Having just read the first book in the series, Resurrection Bay, I was eager to get started on this one!

    The story did not disappoint. It was fast moving and intriguing. I enjoyed it immensely although I wish that I had have taken the time to read books 2 & 3 first so that I understood more of how relationships developed and what happened to Ant & Frankie.

  6. Thank you so much Beauty and Lace and Echo Publishing for the introducing me to another fabulous author Emma Viskic, and her wonderful fourth book in the Caleb Zelic series.

    ‘Those Who Perish’ being the first book of Emma’s I have been fortunate enough to read and review, I am thankful for the way Emma has thoughtfully written the books so they can be read, in order or as a stand-a-lone.

    I have thoroughly enjoyed reading ‘TWP’ with the lead character being profoundly deaf, and I commend Emma’s choice of making her protagonist, a private eye, hearing impaired. I’ve enjoyed the unique aspects and the complexities and advantages Caleb’s (dis) – ability and how quiet often they work in his favour. I’ve loved the complicated relationships between siblings, lovers and families, the banter, and the idyllic island setting, has made this book a very enjoyable book to read.

    I love how the imaginary town of Resurrection Bay is loosely based on French Island National Park just a short ferry ride off the coast of Victoria. I’d love to visit the island for a weekend escape and after a day of bird watching, I’d love to settle down to indulge in one of the other three books in the series.

  7. Those Who Perish is the last issue in the Caleb Zelic thriller series. Emma Viskic’s latest represents an exhilarating, taut and electrifying close to this engaging Australian based crime fiction set.

    The final chapter in Emma Viskic’s crime fiction series sees PI Caleb Zelic solving a mystery on a distant island off the coast of Resurrection Bay. Caleb’s investigative skills are put to the ultimate test when a complex mystery case falls into his hands. But Caleb has troubles on the personal front to deal with alongside this trying investigation. When Caleb learns that his brother Anton is in danger, he sees this as an opportunity to redeem himself. When Caleb finally reaches Anton, he finds him at a remote island. It is here that Caleb unearths a cache full of untold truths and entrenched bad feelings. To make matters worse, a killer is on the loose and this closed off community is placed in immediate danger. It forces these two estranged brothers to connect like never before as they fight to save a community at the mercy of a sniper.

    Emma Viskic is a hardworking Australian crime author who has contributed a healthy supply of mystery thriller novels to the Aussie crime fiction genre. I have enjoyed following the Caleb Zelic series. I think Those Who Perish could be read independently of the previous books in the series, but to experience all this series has to offer it is best to read the whole set in a row. Those Who Perish is a great final instalment of Emma Viskic’s well crafted series.

    I loved the setting featured in Those Who Perish. Isolated Australian communities are fantastic stage bases for mystery novels to play out. Emma Viskic’s novel is well suited to the remote community landscape depicted in this novel. I inhaled the descriptions of this coastal backdrop, Emma Viskic did a fantastic job of illuminating this area. I felt like a bystander watching on as a killer struck this island community. The central mystery was smart and perplexing. I found it hard to unlock the secrets of this one! The narrative is clear and concise, thanks to Viskic’s sparse prose. I really appreciated the whip-smart tone of this novel.

    I have followed lead character Caleb Zelic since the first book in this series. It has been a pleasure to oversee the growth and various changes take place in this man’s often challenging life. In this concluding novel of the series, I found I liked the relationship aspect of the story. With plenty of human relationships to examine, personal conflicts to attend to and interactions to consider, Those Who Perish is more than just a standard crime mystery novel. The stress and strain the immediate cast go through in this story plays out well, making Emma Viskic’s latest a compelling thriller. It was a challenging end for me as I reached the conclusion of Those Who Perish, as it seems a shame to say goodbye to this top crime fiction series. I look forward to reading Emma Viskic’s new stand-alone novel, which she is currently working on. Good news!

    *I wish to thank Beauty & Lace Book Club/Bonnier Echo for a copy of this book for review.

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