Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic

Review published on April 5, 2018.

Resurrection Bay is the first in a new series set in Melbourne and featuring Caleb ‘Cal’ Zelic. If this is anything to go by, we could do with more Aussie crime fiction over here. Viskic knows how to put together a gripping story. Resurrection Bay is immensely enjoyable and Cal is a great lead character, I can easily see him sustaining a series in the future. Cal is profoundly deaf and although that doesn’t define him, it gives him a different perspective on what is going on with those around him. It’s an interesting plot device. The novel has a strong story and is nicely interspersed with humour and thrills. All in all, very readable.

‘Cal’ Zelic is cradling the dead body of his childhood friend, Gaz, when the “ambo” (this is Australia) turns up. The paramedics are faced with an horrendous scene, blood on the kitchen floor, the walls, and the ceiling. They stop in their tracks, after all the man looking up at them might be the killer but nothing could be further from the truth. ‘Gaz’ Marsden was Senior Constable Marsden, moonlighting with Cal for pocket money; somebody tortured him brutally before killing him. When Cal finally lets go of his friend, Detective Tedesco wants to know what Marsden might have been mixed up in that could of got him killed. Zelic and his partner Frankie Reynolds run a company, Trust Work, dealing in security matters and fraud cases, as far as Zelic is concerned there was nothing dangerous enough for Marsden to get killed over. He was helping Trust Work with a insurance case for the extra cash. Zelic points out to Tedesco that Marsden was working on a couple of warehouse robberies on his day job. Tedesco knows that there is nothing in that, that would have led to an execution style murder. All Zelic knows is that Marsden texted him saying that he was being threatened by someone called Scott and that he was in danger.

Frankie confirmed that there was nothing in the Altona warehouse robberies but Cal wants to check for himself. Gaz was a strong man, it would have taken two or three people to do what they did. The house was turned over but if they were looking for something Gaz would have given it to them because Sharon and the children were due home. The next morning Cal tackles the warehouse security guard, Arnie Giannopoulos; he’s scared and has an “S” carved on his chest. Next it’s City Sentry Security boss Sean Fleming, he says nothing is wrong but is also clearly scared – he’s lying. Then Frankie goes missing, she may be drinking again but a bloody handprint indicates otherwise. Zelic is attacked, it’s going to get personal for Cal and why is Sgt. MacFarlane of Ethical Standards investigating Gaz?

Zelic is a character it’s easy to take to. When we first meet him cradling the body of his dead friend we see his vulnerable side, his fear, his confusion and shock, his empathy for the children who could be home any minute now. Later we see his determination, we come to realise that although he is profoundly deaf (others underestimate him, marginalise him), he is resourceful and tough. His deafness can lead to misunderstandings, occasionally the reaction of others is funny, but Cal commands a fierce array of heightened senses – he is sharp and doesn’t miss much visually. Events bring him closer to his ex, Kat, they have a shared status as outsiders (Kat is indigenous Koori and has experiences racism all her life).

The plot has a steady momentum, that is not disparaging, it’s an absorbing story and the plot unfolds stylishly, the actual reason for the murder stays hidden until the very end of the novel.

It’s a journey for Cal, the way leads home, old relationships long side-lined are rekindled as people and events from the past come into focus. There are some nice moments of humour, especially a play on words that arises from Cal’s deafness; Vinceovac, who or what is Vinceovac? Then he comes to realise it is Vince Kovac. Similarly he has identified one character as Pearose, Cal is confused until he understands it is Spiros.

The second novel in the series, And Fire Came Down, will be published in the Autumn, I’ll be keeping an eye out for that. Meanwhile, an interview with Emma Viskic accompanies this review.

Paul Burke 4/5

Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic
Pushkin Vertigo 9781782273912 pbk Apr 2018

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