Review: RESURRECTION BAY by Emma Viskic

ResurrectionBayViskicRESURRECTION BAY does not waste any time letting you know what kind of book it’s going to be. It opens with one young man cradling the presumably lifeless body of a mate while paramedics look on warily. At least Caleb Zelic assumes Gary is dead. “Had to be dead. Couldn’t breathe with his throat slit open like that.” Indeed.

We then piece together that Caleb and Gary were childhood mates. Caleb, runs a private security company and had asked Gary, a policeman, to help him on an investigation. Which has apparently resulted in Gary’s death.

Fueled by a mixture of guilt, paranoia and a desire for justice Gary and his business partner, a fifty-something, female, ex-cop called Frankie, search for the killer. They are thwarted by having precious-little information with which to start, not knowing which police officers involved in the official investigation are corrupt and which aren’t and an assortment of personal baggage that could, in fact does, derail them at any point.

It’s bloody gripping tale that doesn’t let up for a single one of its deliciously short 262 pages. That alone would be enough to recommend it. But there’s more.

Its characters are intriguing. Imperfect, sometimes outright daft, fallible. Humans. Caleb is profoundly deaf from a childhood illness. He prefers to lip read and talk to communicate though he signs as well with people he loves. What he won’t do – to the point that it sometimes causes him more harm than needs be – is let on when he needs help. For reasons that a psychologist wouldn’t need too many billable hours to discern, I found this quality, this stubborn pride or whatever it is, endearing. Though at the same time I could understand why it drove his ex-wife mad with frustration. Without making a show of it Viskic does a great job of giving readers a glimpse of what life might be like for someone deaf – its challenges and compensations – but her real skill is in making Caleb a complete, well-rounded human being for whom deafness is just another thing to deal with.

Everyone we meet in this ensemble cast is connected to Caleb in some way. Frankie battles her own demons – addiction and the resultant social isolation – and is difficult for Caleb – and readers – to know well. Kat, conversely, wears her emotions more openly, and it’s not hard to see why Caleb is still in love with her despite their separation. As regular readers of this blog would know I’m not much of a romantic but I was rooting for them to work out their troubles. The other players – the in-laws, the childhood friends, the suspicious cops – are all vibrant even if they only appear for a few lines.

The book’s title comes from Caleb’s home town, Gary’s and Kat’s too for that matter, and action eventually moves there from Melbourne when Caleb needs a place to lie low and recover from injuries he’s received in the course of the investigation. There’s a nice juxtaposition between city and small town life and both settings have a very authentic feel to them which rounds out all the elements I look for in my reading.

RESURRECTION BAY is sad and funny and thrilling and very, very good. It’s even got a kicker of an ending. You should read it. Now.

AWW2016This is the first novel I’ve read and reviewed for the fifth Australian Women Writers Challenge. For more information about the challange check out my challenge progresssign up yourself or browse the Challenge’s database of reviews.

Publisher: Echo Publishing [2015]
ISBN: 9781760068769
Length: 262 pages
Format: paperback
Creative Commons Licence
This work by is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

7 thoughts on “Review: RESURRECTION BAY by Emma Viskic

  1. I keep hearing really good things about this one, Bernadette. And you aren’t one to sling the ‘read this now’ suggestion around lightly. So if you say it’s that sort of book, I’m even more interested. And it does sound really absorbing.


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