And Fire Came Down

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 05 Aug 2018

Member Reviews

Caleb Zelic returns in the second book from Emma Viskic, a very promising Australian noir mystery novel that fronts an investigator severely hard of hearing due to a childhood illness, with various chips on his shoulder and many unresolved issues. But he does want to help people, especially when a young woman is killed virtually in front of him.

So that’s the set up for And Fire Came Down. So much happens that the story pulls you along. And the reader’s knowledge is most often the same as Caleb’s, limited by his deafness whether it be by mumbling witnesses, people speaking as they are turning away, or by being in a dark place. And when will people remember to text him?

I recommend this book and series highly with the possible mild caveat that it is noir and you have to be able to tolerate swearing. It’s present here as a fact of every day life/conversation and did not seem gratuitous to me at all. But I know some are sensitive on this subject.

My only other suggestion would be to read Resurrection Bay first. That book introduced many of the recurring characters important to the story here.

I am really looking forward to the next episode in Caleb’s life.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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Second novel in the crime series set in Melbourne and Resurrection Bay.

Unusual feature is that the main protagonist, PI Caleb Zelic, has to struggle with his deafness, which does have implications for plot development.

Well told and pacey, this is a bit different from the usual PI stories and none the worse for that .Definitely worth a try.
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Oh, Caleb is a mess. Viskic has made a character who is maddening, strong, and way too stubborn. As a fellow deafie, I do find Caleb's utter inability to either own up to or accommodate his deafness a bit frustrating (c'mon dude, make your life just a teensy bit easier?) but I know people like him. It's real. I like Viskic's attention to her characters overall and the community interactions also felt spot-on. Plot-wise though, I got lost. I don't know if there's too many threads here but my belief was stretched a bit too far. Nevertheless, the characterization and the interesting portrait of racial tensions makes this book shine.
(Yes, I read Resurrection Bay first. Yes, it really helped.)
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I love crime fiction books and absolutely devoured this one. Hang on for dear life as the author twists and turns her way throughout this well written and enthralling story. She will have you turning around in circles as you race to find out what's going on and who did it. Well done. Very well done. Happy reading!
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Title was archived before I could review it sadly. Guess I will have to buy it if I would like to read it. I am new to the Galley and was not aware of the fact that the archival date meant that I could not access the title anymore. Too bad
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Caleb has PTSD stemming from events in the first book in the series. His wife who was also a victim of those events, is also still recovering and has they are estranged. Missing his wife, Caleb finds himself drawn into a case when a young woman asks him for help and is immediately murdered. 

Caleb is a great character. His life is complicated by his deafness, his dysfunctional family and his guilt over his wife Kat's injuries in book 1. His obsession with the dead Portia seems to be his way of avoiding coping with the other traumas in his life. Ultimately however, he ends up with even more problems as he gets on the wrong side of the powerful criminal element in Melbourne.

I hadn't read Resurrection Bay, the first book in the series but it wasn't a difficult introduction to Caleb and his world. It's a book that I would certainly recommend to people who like gritty novels about flawed detectives. It reminded me of Dennis Lehane's Patrick Kenzie series.

Looking forward to the next book in the series.
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Emma Viskic’s previous book, Resurrection Bay featuring private investigator Caleb Zelic was, without question, one of my top books last year, and have been (im)patiently waiting the next in the series. So, yes the time has come to review And Fire Came Down, and it’s a scorcher, no pun intended.

Once again, the real lynchpin of the book is the character of Caleb himself, reeling from the events of the previous book, and the emotional and professional loss it has wreaked on his life. Opening with a brief encounter with an unknown woman which results  in her death, Caleb realises that this encounter has been engineered to ensnare him in an investigation which proves challenging, dangerous, and perhaps more importantly draws him right back into the community of Resurrection Bay from his city life. Caleb’s character works well on several levels, due to the authenticity that Viskic brings to him and his voice. In my previous review, I dwelt on the nature of his deafness, and how Viskic paints such a true picture of the everyday difficulties and stress that his condition brings to his life. I’ve since read two books that have hearing impaired characters at the forefront, and still believe that Viskic has provided the truest representation of this particular character trait.

Another thing I love about his character is his sensitivity and innate morality, and the way that he switches between his emotional states. Here is a man that recognises his own weaknesses, and by extension the weaknesses of others, and carries with him a real sense of emotional intelligence, despite the constraints that his aural impairment places on him on reading others through words and gestures. He is also extremely self-deprecating, and has a sharp wit too. Although he is a perfectly competent and determined investigator, clear in his motivations to ferret out the truth, I like the way that Viskic adds this level of personal emotional weakness and confusion when it comes to dealing with those closest to him, most notably his estranged wife Kat, his fearsome mother-in-law, Maria, and his disgraced former partner, Frankie. Viskic’s portrayal of these three extremely strong women is also a significant point of interest in the book, not only for Caleb’s interactions with them, but also the characterisation of their contrasting natures and personal demons.

The premise of the investigation of the young woman’s death from the outset, leads Caleb into a whole heap of trouble, fuelled by the extreme racial tension in his hometown of Resurrection Bay. The varying reactions and attitude to the Koori people, an indigenous community in the town, is simmering to boiling point, and Caleb’s case leads him straight into the eye of the storm. Racial division is an all too widespread and vile aspect of life, I found this depiction particularly emotive, and was very affected by the sheer ignorance and hatred that certain individuals exhibit in the course of the story, and the violence that this gives rise too on the weaker members of the community. As emotive as this issue is, however, Viskic keeps her own authorial intervention firmly in check, achieving a balanced and objective view of the community tensions throughout, leading to an utterly compelling and thought provoking read. Once again, after my praise for Resurrection Bay, can highly recommend And Fire Came Down, and would urge you to discover this series for yourselves. Roll on book three Darkness For Light.
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I enjoyed the many storylines – all interconnected – that made for a quick read.  At the beginning of the book, there was Portia, her murder and the search for her killer, Kat and the possibility of reconciliation with Caleb, racist vandalism, Caleb’s relationship with his brother, missing Frankie, and, at the center of it all, drugs.  Caleb's deafness and the problems that go along with that deafness are woven into circumstances skillfully.

Thrown in is a bit of clever and subtle humor, like, “Smoking pot passed as a hobby around here, but Ant had shown a natural flair for it; could have gone pro, smoked for Australia.”

My minor objection is that the formula for this book is very similar to the author’s first book, Resurrection Bay.  Again, there are multiple situations, Caleb mentally messing up, the relationship with Kat on-again-off-again, Ant being clean-not-clean-not, and Caleb, kidnapped and left blindfolded, bleeding, and bound, held in a building somewhere.  That said, I still enjoyed the book

Thank you to NetGalley and Ms. Viskic for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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I would like to thank Netgalley and Pushkin Press for an advance copy of And Fire Came Down, the second novel to feature PI Caleb Zelic, set in Melbourne and his small hometown of Resurrection Bay.

Caleb is out running in Melbourne when a vagrant accosts him with a note with his name and address on it and ushers him into an alley where a woman unknown to him signs to him and asks for help but before he can do anything her pursuer chases her out into the street and into the path of a car. Without his hearing aids he has little idea of what she said or wanted before she died but he is determined to find out who sent her to him and what she wanted of him, especially when he discovers she came from Resurrection Bay.

I thoroughly enjoyed And Fire Came down which is a good mixture of thriller, suspense, action and social commentary. I have not read Resurrection Bay, despite owning it, which can be viewed as either good or bad. This novel makes many references to the events in it so I won't be going back to read it until my memory has faded and I can approach it with less knowledge than I have now, otherwise it would be a wasted read. I think I would advise any reader looking to read this to read the series in order. On the other hand I feel that the backstory is sufficiently explored to make this novel work as a stand alone.

There are times when the plot seems muddled and slightly difficult to navigate but this is deliberate as the novel is told strictly from Caleb's point of view and he is suffering from a lack of information and a cohesive thread to his investigation and the rash of events. It all makes sense at the end but it's rather random during the read. There is racial violence, mysterious gunmen and several attacks on Caleb himself, not all by the same people.

Caleb Zelic is a bit of a strange protagonist. A bout of meningitis as a child left him profoundly deaf so he copes with lip reading, not always successfully, and hearing aids which he only seems to use intermittently but that's not the strange thing about him, in fact I found the novel very enlightening on this subject, it's more that he doesn't take account of his limitations and insists on interviewing people he can't understand. Surely as the smart man he's supposed to be he would use any means available, including help, to get the information he needs. He doesn't, however, come across as particularly smart, more reckless and obsessive. There are reasons for this which are explored in the novel. He is a very well drawn character who is flawed but doing his best. I really enjoyed his interactions with his brother which add a certain lightness to an otherwise dark novel.

And Fire Came Down is a good read which I have no hesitation in recommending.
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