#aww2018 · 2018 Reviews · a-z author challenge 2018 · Australian · contemporary fiction · crime · Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday Book Review: Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic


Welcome to a weekly post, Throwback Thursday. This weekly book review post is a way to share some old favourites, books that were published over a year ago and most importantly those books that have been languishing on the to be read pile for far too long!

Caleb Zelic, profoundly deaf since early childhood, has always lived on the outside – Resurrection Bay smallwatching, picking up telltale signs people hide in a smile, a cough, a kiss. When a childhood friend is murdered, a sense of guilt and a determination to prove his own innocence sends Caleb on a hunt for the killer. But he can’t do it alone. Caleb and his troubled friend Frankie, an ex-cop, start with one clue: Scott, the last word the murder victim texted to Caleb. But Scott is always one step ahead.

This gripping, original and fast-paced crime thriller is set between a big city and a small coastal town, Resurrection Bay, where Caleb is forced to confront painful memories. Caleb is a memorable protagonist who refuses to let his deafness limit his opportunities, or his participation in the investigation. But does his persistence border on stubbornness? And at what cost? As he delves deeper into the investigation Caleb uncovers unwelcome truths about his murdered friend – and himself.


Australian crime fiction is blessed to have talented authors, such as Emma Viskic, the author of Resurrection Bay. This Melbourne based crime writer has composed a debut piece of fiction that has a strong line of authenticity, is completely fresh and is marked by astute prose. At the helm of Resurrection Bay is Caleb Zelic, a profoundly deaf private investigator, who is faced with the task of solving his friend’s murder, alongside proving his innocence.

Resurrection Bay begins with an explosive bang. The opening scene had me completely absorbed. It sets a very good tone for the forthcoming action and events of the novel. The hunt for the killer responsible for the murder of Caleb’s friend is what essentially drives this novel forward. However, we are also given a deep insight into Caleb’s world and how he deals with his hearing impairment. We see how it impacts on his work as a PI with his partner Frankie, along with those who are ignorant to his extra needs, such as the homicide detective assigned to Caleb’s case. As Caleb continues with dogged determination to crack this case, he must face the ghosts of his past and some uncomfortable truths..

Resurrection Bay is a book that has been on my long list of books to read since the year it was published (2015). Following all the positive reviews and awards this book has received, I purchased the second book (And Fire Came Down), even though I had not read the first. I had faith that I would like the writing of Emma Viskic enough to indulge in both books. For the record, I did enjoy Resurrection Bay and I would very happily turn to the writing of Emma Viskic again. In fact, I’m relieved I have a copy of the second book featuring the lead, Caleb Zelic waiting in the wings, so I can read this book with no delay!

Caleb Zelic goes hand in hand with Resurrection Bay. One cannot exist without the other. It is so revitalizing to have a lead character that moves away from our typical crime novel characters. Caleb is different, but very likeable. Viskic’s treatment of Caleb is one that displays a depth of understanding, authenticity and insight. It is like a cold breath of fresh air, having a main protagonist placed in the lead who has a profound impairment. I applaud Viskic for her placement and treatment of Caleb. Viskic gives us a good sense of what it would be like to live in a world of silence, where you need to rely on gestures, behaviours, lip reading and sign language to navigate everyday life. Viskic has obviously researched this area thoroughly and this is very clearly channelled through the novel in every which way. Caleb is an indelible character and I’m confident readers will not forget him.

Caleb is a fully fleshed out character and he plays such a big role in the novel. He does not overtake the narrative itself, which is highly plot driven and never predictable. Alongside Caleb are a very functional set of secondary characters, from Caleb’s partner Frankie, to his ex and to the investigating detectives of the central case. Each has their own agenda and adds plenty to the ongoing narrative direction. Viskic is skilled at making the most of her characters and the interactions they have with one another. The dialogue in particular struck a chord with me; it was sharp, realistic, gritty and genuinely intriguing.

Viskic takes great care to outline her setting. She contrasts Resurrection Bay with the city landscape. This books represents a great fusion of big city, rural and coastal together. Some may say this is hard to capture, but I feel Viskic nails all aspects of her landscape to perfection.

Resurrection Bay works well as a crime and procedural novel. I am certain even esteemed crime readers will find this book wholly engaging, complex and a little different from the norm. The stretch to the finish line is fantastic and given half the chance, I’m convinced I would have been able to read Resurrection Bay in a sitting.

Crime aficionados will be sure to devour this piece of great Australian crime writing, from a talented new voice. I’ll be quickly turning to my copy of the second book from Emma Viskic, And Fire Came Down, based on my response to Resurrection Bay.

**** 4 stars

Resurrection Baby Emma Viskic was published on 1st September 2015 by Echo Publishing. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

Learn more about the author of Resurrection Bay, Emma Viskic here.

Resurrection Bay is book #134 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge

*Book ‘V’ of the a-z author challenge 2018


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