Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Review of Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic (Pushkin Vertigo, 2015)

Caleb Zelic and his business partner, ex-cop, ex-alcoholic, Frankie Reynolds run a security and investigation company in Melbourne. They hire in Caleb’s best friend, Senior Constable Gary Marsden, to help solve a couple of thefts from a warehouse. Shortly after sending a couple of warning texts to his family and Caleb, Gary is found dead. Soon Frankie has seemingly been kidnapped, Caleb has been attacked, and the only clue as to who’s behind the assaults is the name ‘Scott’. Unwilling to trust the police, Caleb retreats to his ex-wife, Kat, and to Resurrection Bay, his childhood home. There he tries to piece together Gary’s last few hours and identify Scott, while also rekindling his relationship with Kat. But Resurrection Bay isn’t beyond the reaches of his enemies.

In many ways, Resurrection Bay is a straightforward crime confusion tale in which a PI stumbles into a murderous situation and, unable to trust the police, goes on the run, at the same time trying to protect those around him, solve the case and bring the perpetrators to justice. As with most fictional PIs, Caleb Zelic’s personal life is a mess – recently divorced, a brother who’s a reformed drug addict/dealer, a partner who’s a recovering alcoholic. The fresh angle is Zelic is deaf and is reliant on lip-reading, some very residual hearing, and sign language (by coincidence, in the book I read prior to this, Sleeping Dogs, it was the criminal who was deaf and signed). Zelic’s deafness adds somewhat to the confusion, but to Viskic’s credit it is largely incidental to the story – it’s a tale in which the lead character happens to be deaf, rather than being centrally about a deaf PI. The characterisation in general is nicely done, with a good dynamic between Zelic, his ex-wife, and those he encounters. And the story zips along as Zelic careens from one situation to the next. The plot itself and the denouement is a bit predictable, except for a twist near the end, and is reliant on a series of somewhat staged plot devices (lost phone, crushed keys, etc.); nonetheless, the characters, pacing, dash of dark humour ensure it’s engaging and entertaining read.

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