Thursday, March 5, 2020


DARKNESS FOR LIGHT by Emma Viskic (Echo Publishing, Dec 2019)

Reviewed by Craig Sisterson

Caleb Zelic can't hear you. But he can see everything.
The latest pulsating thriller in the Caleb Zelic series

After a lifetime of bad decisions PI Caleb Zelic is finally making good ones. He's in therapy, his business is recovering and his relationship with his estranged wife Kat is on the mend.

But soon Caleb is drawn into the tangled life of his troubled ex partner Frankie, which leads to a confrontation with the cops. And when Frankie's niece is kidnapped, she and Caleb must work together to save the child's life. But can Caleb trust her after her past betrayals?

Melbourne scribe Emma Viskic burst onto the crime scene a few years ago with an outstanding and unusual novel centred on deaf private eye Caleb Zelic.

Reflecting on the thousand-plus crime novels I read during the 2010s, I'd have to say RESURRECTION BAY was one of the better debuts I read - and I wasn't alone in enjoying it as it went on to scoop numerous awards at home (Davitts, Ned Kelly Award, etc), then international acclaim including two CWA Dagger shortlistings.

Caleb returned in AND FIRE CAME DOWN, and now he and Viskic and Zelic are back for a third dance in DARKNESS FOR LIGHT, a really terrific novel in what has become a very fine series.

After all that has gone before, Caleb is now trying to turn his life around.

He’s seeing a therapist, connecting more with the Melbourne deaf community that he's avoided in the past, and hoping to reconcile with his estranged wife Kat, an indigenous artist. His credo to 'make good decisions' is put to the test however when a potential client turns up dead.

Federal cops swirl around the case - what is going on?

Caleb has unwittingly got himself entangled in a web involving corruption and a kidnapped young girl - as well as the return of Caleb's dangerous former business partner and friend Frankie. The former cop is a woman who may even outdo Caleb when it comes to self-destructive tendencies.

Can Caleb trust Frankie, or is she setting him up? What about the Federal cops?

Alarms screech everywhere.

Viskic conjures a superb crime tale that moves like a bullet train while never scrimping on character depth or emotional impact. There is tonnes of intrigue in both Caleb's professional and personal life, while Viskic delivers genuine insights into her deaf characters in ways that feel pleasingly nuanced rather than tokenistic.

Overall, DARKNESS FOR LIGHT is a fresh and masterful crime tale from a hugely talented author. Well worth grabbing a copy and diving into the continuing adventures of Caleb Zelic.

Craig Sisterson is a lawyer turned features writer from New Zealand, now living in London. In recent years he’s interviewed hundreds of crime writers and talked about the genre on national radio, top podcasts, and onstage at books festivals on three continents. He has been a judge of the Ned Kelly Awards and the McIlvanney Prize, and is founder of the Ngaio Marsh Awards and co-founder of Rotorua Noir. You can heckle him on Twitter. 

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