And Fire Came Down by Emma Viskic, Book Review: Brave writing

And Fire Came Down is Emma Viskic’s second novel in her internationally bestselling Caleb Zelic Thriller Series.

And Fire Came Down Emma Viskic

And Fire Came Down Synopsis

Deaf since early childhood, Caleb Zelic used to meet life head-on. Now he’s struggling just to get through the day. His best mate is dead, his ex-wife, Kat, is avoiding him, and nightmares haunt his waking hours.

But when a young woman is killed after pleading for his help in sign language, Caleb is determined to find out who she was. And the trail leads straight to his hometown, Resurrection Bay.  The town is on bushfire alert and simmering with racial tensions. As he delves deeper, Caleb uncovers secrets that could threaten his life and any chance of reuniting with Kat. Driven by his demons, he pushes on. But who is he willing to sacrifice along the way?

(Echo Publishing, August 2017; Pushkin Press, August 2018)

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Crime-Detective, Drama

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I found it hard not to gush about the first title in this series, Resurrection Bay (read my review).

Emma Viskic makes brave writing choices. Her characters are achingly real – the challenges they face are rarely simple (and ones rarely explored with such candour) and despite their admirable grit and determination, ever-present scar tissue often means they respond in ways that are counter-productive. In And Fire Came Down she has continued in this vein, and somehow dug even deeper…

It’s not often that I say this, but I strongly recommend readers start with Book 1 in this series, to fully appreciate the depth and gravity of series lead Caleb’s emotional journey. Having experienced that, one cannot help but be moved by certain turns of events impacting Caleb and those close to him in And Fire Came Down.

Viskic’s writing style is once again highly accessible and punchy/engaging, Caleb describing the contents of university textbooks as

words so dry they sucked the moisture from his eyeballs

and the experience of lip-reading an elderly pyjama-clad gentleman,

Each word was a hard little nugget squeezed through cat’s bum lips. An easy read, but not a pleasant one.

Viskic has used the oppressive heat of the Australian summer, the crackling tension of bushfire season and other symbolism to great effect. Caleb’s multi-layered narrative – from dry and frequently obstinate dialogue, to inner voice language interpretation/frustration and emotional indecision along with involuntary PTSD flashbacks – is engrossing and the level of violence and trauma depicted, uncompromising.

And Fire Came Down is noticeably darker than Resurrection Bay – another gutsy, but one senses necessary step towards meaningful (and memorable) redemption for Viskic’s characters. It is going to be another tough wait for Book 3.

BOOK RATING: The Story 4.5 / 5 ; The Writing 4.5 / 5

Get your copy of And Fire Came Down from:

Amazon Book Depository Booktopia AU
OR listen to the audiobook FREE with Audible’s Trial (check eligibility)

UPDATE: We have since had the pleasure of reviewing Book 3, Darkness for Light and Book 4, Those Who Perish.

This review counts towards my participation in the Aussie Author Challenge 2017 and 2017 Australian Women Writers Challenge.

About the Author, Emma Viskic

Emma Viskic is an award-winning Australian crime writer. Her critically acclaimed debut novel, Resurrection Bay, won the 2016 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction, as well as an unprecedented three Davitt Awards: Best Adult Novel, Best Debut, and Readers’ Choice. Resurrection Bay was iBooks Australia’s Crime Novel of 2015. She has also won the Ned Kelly and Thunderbolt Awards for her short-form fiction.

A classically trained clarinettist, Emma’s musical career has ranged from performing with José  Carreras and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, to busking in the London Underground. Emma studied Australian sign language (Auslan) in order to write the Caleb Zelic series. Check out Emma’s website and connect with her on Twitter.

* My receiving a copy of this novel from the publisher for review purposes did not impact the expression of my honest opinions in the review above.