Fiction – paperback; Pushkin (Vertigo); 304 pages; 2018.
Emma Viskic’s debut novel, Resurrection Bay, is an unconventional slice of noir set in Melbourne, Australia.
It’s unconventional because the main character, Caleb Zelic, is profoundly deaf but is such a skilled lip reader that few people realise his inability to hear.
It’s also unconventional because it’s not a police procedural as such: when Caleb’s childhood friend, a senior constable, is brutally murdered, he’s determined to track down the killer.
He carries out an investigation via the private security firm he runs with his business partner Frankie, a former police detective, who is battling a secret dependence on alcohol.
Their work is fast-paced — and dangerous. It swings between the city and Resurrection Bay, Caleb’s home town on the coast, and involves a shady cast of characters, including corrupt cops, thugs and innocent people caught up in a web of lies and secrets.
A deftly plotted page turner
Resurrection Bay is a truly original story. It’s incredibly well plotted and full of twists and turns, but it’s so fast-paced it left me feeling breathless in places.
But it’s also very violent. There’s a lot of death and a lot of brutality, perhaps a little too much for my liking.
Yet it’s not without gentleness, for Caleb is nursing a broken heart and is still getting over his marriage break up with Kat, an aboriginal artist, who is unwittingly caught up in Caleb and Frankie’s investigation.
If I was to fault the story it would be that sometimes it feels unrealistic, but this is a minor quibble, because the tale is so gripping it hardly matters.
Caleb, of course, is the star of the show, a convincing protagonist, appealing and likeable. And the twist at the end caught me off guard, which is always the sign of a great crime thriller.
Resurrection Bay has been shortlisted for two prestigious CWA awards — the Gold Dagger and the New Blood Dagger — but it’s also won a slew of awards in Australia, including the Ned Kelly Best Debut and iBooks Australia Best Crime Novel.