Caleb Zelic

Created by Emma Viskic

“Caleb Zelic can’t hear you but he sees everything.”
— now that is one great tagline

Brutal. That’s the word that comes to mind oftenwhen trying to describe this wrenching series. Reminiscent at times of Andrew Vachhs or Paul Cleave, nothing is done by half-measures. When people are killed, they’re really killed; when people get hurt, they really hurt.

And our guide into this world is CALEB ZELIC, an operative for Trust Works, a small agency in Cal’s hometown of Resurrection Bay that specializes in “corporate security, fraud investigation, that sort of thing.”

He works with Frankie Reynolds, a former cop who drinks a bit, and his on-again, off-again wife Kat, an aboriginal artist who works in wood, and is handy with a chainsaw. Although frequently at odds, the three work well together. Well, at least at first.

Oh, and Caleb’s deaf. He can speak, but he’s profoundly hard of hearing. He misses words and frequently misreads lips, especially when he’s tired or stressed out, but he’s generally good at reading people, and he doesn’t miss much. His preferred means of communication are email and text.

As I said, things get brutal here, but the series fairly reeks with compassion and empathy, and the author nails the frustrations of being “differently abled” with sensitivity and even wit. Call it hard-boiled with heart.

The first novel in the series, 2017’s Resurrection Bay, won the 2016 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction, scooped up an unprecedented three Davitt Awards, and was iBooks Australia’s Crime Novel of 2015, and its follow-up, And Fire Came Down, may be even better. It finds Caleb relocated to Melbourne– he’s now working out of a tiny office in his home. But don’t worry — he’s still a Class A shit magnet.

Emma, who studied Australian sign language (Auslan) before starting the series, is also a classical clarinettist. She lives in Melbourne and divides her time between writing, performing, and teaching


  • A “terrific debut.. The hearing-impaired Caleb (Zelic) must rely on his keen ability to read faces as he tries to figure out whom, if anyone, he can trust. The truth behind the violence is both stunning and fairly clued, and Caleb is a sufficiently complex lead to easily sustain a series. James Ellroy and Paul Cleave fans will relish this hard-edged crime novel.”
    —  Publishers Weekly on Resurrection Bay
  •  “Emma Viskic is a terrific, gutsy writer with great insight into the murkiness of both criminal and heroic motivations.”
    — Emily Maguire



Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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