Fresh Blood

Name: Emma Viskic

Title of Book: Resurrection Bay

'...a truly gripping debut which feels as though written by a seasoned writer.'

Caleb Zelic is profoundly deaf since early childhood and has always lived on the outside. Caleb gets an alarming text from his friend, Gary and finds him in his home with his throat slit. Gary was looking in to some burglaries for Caleb and now he feels a sense of guilt and a responsibility to find his killer.

Little does Caleb know that soon his loved ones will be threatened and that even his old home town of Resurrection Bay is no longer a safe haven. Soon he will understand that no one can be trusted and everyone is under suspicion.

This multi-award winning debut from Australia finally hits the UK shores and this is certainly a standout book having read it in under twenty-four hours. Viskic’s pared back prose is reminiscent of American Noir of the forties/fifties. There are no overlong paragraphs of description or repetition here, Viskic simply gets on with the job of telling her story in an economical and enthralling manner which pulses the narrative along at an alarming rate. Those pages flew by as I careened through this novel like an out of control car.

Caleb Zelic is a wonderful character who is frustrated with being inside a silent world. Frustrated when people don’t talk properly, or in some cases over pronounce their words. This leads Caleb to be an onlooker rather than a participant in life which can lead to situations where he holds back his emotions, especially with his ex, Kat. Viskic hits the perfect note with Caleb and Kat, showing two people who are estranged and yet still in love with each other which lends a deeply personal touch to her story, bringing her characters to life – a talent Viskic has in spades, making the people in her novel leap off the page fully formed.

There is a bitter sweet twist towards the end of this book which knocked me off my feet, it was so unexpected. By the time I closed Viskic’s book, I felt as exhausted as Caleb, having felt I’d run a marathon in my head. Viskic’s novel is the reason why I love reviewing. It is wonderful to discover a book that captures your imagination and enraptures you within the first few pages. It is no wonder this has already won five awards. I bet there will be a few more added to that total by the time ‘Resurrection Bay’ has gone global. This is a truly gripping debut which feels as though written by a seasoned writer. Mesmerising.

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating

Fresh Blood Questionnaire

1) Caleb Zelic is profoundly deaf since childhood and you learned sign language to greater understand Caleb. Why did you give your main character this condition?
Caleb was partially inspired by a profoundly deaf girl I knew in childhood. I met her around the time I first started realising that other people’s lives could be very different from mine, so she had a big impact on me. I didn’t intend to write her deafness into Caleb’s character, and was so scared by the prospect of getting it wrong, that I nearly abandoned the novel. Luckily, Caleb kept nudging at my brain. I couldn’t stop thinking about him, and wondering what his world would be like. I eventually summoned my courage and began the long process of research and writing, and I’m so glad I did. Every moment of the journey has been fascinating.
2) In your novel you leave little hints about Caleb’s family history and how he became deaf without giving the full facts. Will we learn more about Caleb in your next novel?
You will. The second novel in the series, ‘And Fire Came Down’, picks up seven months after the events in ‘Resurrection Bay’. It’s about family and belonging, and the grip our pasts can have on us, both good and bad. The bulk of the novel is set in Caleb’s hometown, so his backstory is threaded through the narrative. ‘And Fire Came Down’ has just been released in Australia and will be out in the UK in 2018.
3) You sprinkle your novel with dark humour. Do you have a wicked sense of humour and feel it is needed in a crime novel?
Yes and yes! I love dark, dry humour and often have an inappropriate desire to laugh in sombre moments. It’s got me into a lot of trouble over the years. I also think that balance is important in any novel. Tense scenes need to be balanced by introspective ones; grim moments, by humour. Otherwise, the tone becomes monotonous.
4) The flow of your prose reminded me a lot of Raymond Chandler and Noir novelists from that time. Has this been an influence on your writing?
My parents gave me unfettered access to their books when I was quite young, so I grew up on a wonderful mix of authors and genres. I read everything, but was particularly drawn to the pared-back style of early American noir. Chandler was, and is, one of my favourites. I love the way he can create a scene with only a few stokes of his pen.
5) What are you planning for your next novel?
I’m in the early stages of writing the third novel in the Caleb Zelic series. At the moment I’m doing a lot of mulling, a bit of writing, and visiting some very dubious websites in the name of research.
6) What one piece of advice would you give novice writers after your journey becoming published?
Good writing comes from rewriting. Novice writers often get disheartened when their writing isn’t as good as they’d like it to be, but all first drafts are bad. Mine are filled with clunky sentences, gaping plot holes and repetitive phrases. It took me five years to write ‘Resurrection Bay’, and most of that time was spent editing.
7) Are you a fan of crime fiction? If so, what are the top three crime novels that have made a lasting impression on you and you would wish to have on a deserted island?
I love reading crime fiction. It’s a wonderful way of exploring human motivations and morals. Choosing my top three books is a bit like choosing a favourite child, so let’s just say that these are three of my favourites.

Truth by Peter Temple: a gritty urban Australian novel about a homicide detective and the many, tangled threads of his professional and personal lives. Temple has a wonderful ear for dialogue, and the kind of dark humour I love.

When Will There Be Good News, the third of Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie series. Atkinson writes about dark themes with a light touch. Her writing is smart, funny, and insightful.

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. Chandler’s writing isn’t just lean and mean, it’s also wonderfully rhythmic. He’s also master of the quick and cutting character description.