Category: Book Review

Book Review: Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic

Title: RESURRECTION BAY
Author: Emma Viskic
Publisher: Pushkin Press
ISBN: 9781782273622
Genre: Mystery | Suspense

BACK COVER BLURB

Caleb Zelic can’t hear you. But he sees everything.

CALEB ZELIC IS ON THE HUNT FOR HIS FRIEND’S KILLER

His childhood friend has been brutally murdered—fingers broken, throat slit—at his home in Melbourne. Tortured by guilt, Caleb vows to track down the killer. But he’s profoundly deaf; missed words and misread lips can lead to confusion, and trouble.

HE NEVER FORGETS A FACE

Fortunately, Caleb knows how to read people; a sideways glance, an unconvincing smile, speaks volumes. When his friend Frankie, a former cop, offers to help, they soon discover the killer is on their tail

IT MIGHT JUST SAVE HIS LIFE

Sensing that his ex-wife may also be in danger, Caleb insists they return to their hometown of Resurrection Bay. But here he learns that everyone—including his murdered friend—is hiding something. And the deeper he digs, the darker the secrets…

WHAT I THOUGHT

First of all, let me just begin by saying this debut novel by Aussie author, Emma Viskic, is outstanding. Truly a remarkable novel on just about every level. It’s not long, at just 280 pages, so I read this in one frantic, page-turning day!

Let’s start with the well crafted, well delineated characters. I love Caleb Zelic who narrates the story. He’s such a great down-to-earth character, feisty and oh so different from the usual MC in that he just happens to be deaf. This makes for a wholly unique POV both in the visuals and descriptions, and more, the dialogue.

Choppy and jarring, we see the world how Caleb hears it. With broken sentences that obviously make for a few comic and laugh out loud moments. And, of course, because of this handicap, we feel every ounce of Caleb’s frustration. His determination to not to give in, stubborn to the last. Which inevitably causes clashes with both his work partner, Frankie—who, by the way, is another excellently flawed character—and his ex-wife, Kat. It’s only when we learn why Kat and Caleb spilt that we understand the weight of emotions involved.

This thread of the plot is wonderfully written. The tug and pull between the two characters are at the heart of Caleb’s state of mind. And provide a lot of the backstory to Caleb. And I love Kat as a character too, along with her family, of whom I’m sure, we’ll see a lot more of. I especially want more of Kat’s mother, Maria!

And then there’s Frankie—Caleb’s 57 year-old, ex-cop partner and on the wagon drunk—with an acerbic wit who’s a great counterbalance to Caleb. Throw in a clutch of secondary characters that were so well written, I felt like I knew them. And Viskic has assembled the perfect cast for this taut, tense mystery full of twists and turns I was caught out several times.

The plotting is superb, as we follow Caleb and Frankie trying to figure out why Caleb’s friend, Gary, has been murdered while investigating a fraud case. What on the surface seems straightforward enough, becomes a deadly race against time, as one by one, people close to the case begin turning up dead.

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed RESURRECTION BAY and the almost, at times, poetic descriptions Viskic writes:

. . . she was a study in tones: her skin a smooth wash of burnt umber, sienna touches to her hair, the unexpected flash of blue eyes. The genes from all her Koori ancestors distilled to a heady perfection.

There are moments of heart-pounding terror, as seen through Caleb’s eyes, to moments of joy and heartbreak with ex-wife, Kat. And some very funny moments with Frankie, that keep this one light and entertaining, counterbalancing the moments of off-camera violence when the heavies start to slice-and-dice people. And then, there’s an ending I never saw coming, as Viskic throws in a cleverly disguised curve-ball that threw me for a loop.

This is an amazing debut, with believable characters, brisk pacing and plotting that might make your head turn in the wrong direction. Hang on for the ride. Now, I can’t wait to grab a copy of the second in the series, AND FIRE CAME DOWN.

Rating: 9.5 / 10

Book Review: Inside Out by Barry Eisler

Title: INSIDE OUT
Author: Barry Eisler
Publisher: Ballantine Books
ISBN: 9780345505101
Genre: Thriller

BACK COVER BLURB

Torture.
Ghost detainees.
And a massive cover-up that continues even today.

Marooned in a Manila jail after a bar fight fatality, black ops soldier Ben Treven gets a visit from his former commander, Colonel Scott Horton, who explains the price of Ben’s release: Find and eliminate Daniel Larison, a rogue operator from Ben’s unit who has stolen ninety-two torture tapes from the CIA and is using them to blackmail the U.S. Government.

But other players are after the tapes, too, and to find Larison, Ben will have to survive CIA hit teams, Blackwater mercenaries, and the long reach of the White House. He’ll also need to find a way to handle Paula Lanier, a smart, sexy FBI agent who has her own reasons for wanting the tapes and is determined to get them before Ben does. With the stakes this high, everyone has an angle—everyone but Ben, who will have to find the right alliance if he wants to stay alive.

WHAT I THOUGHT

Barry Eisler just keeps getting better and better with each book he writes. 

Inside Out is the second Ben Treven story, sadly I haven’t read the previous outing but that didn’t spoil this one in anyway. Thankfully, Eisler doesn’t waste time playing catch up in his opening chapters but writes thought-provoking, stand-alone thrillers that deliver on every level, whether or not they feature characters who’ll become part of a series. 

It’s how Eisler takes you straight into the heart of the story and characters that makes him a captivating writer. He sets the scene, he builds the characters with just the right amount of background detail and shading (no one is paper thin, black and white, or without a hidden agenda or motives) his characters come with their own share of baggage so you know exactly where each one is coming from, from the get-go.

Eisler also delivers the punches, and by god he’ll make you squirm, and smile, and wince, and nod your head knowingly as you read this one. At times wonderfully nuanced, it’s also in your face and brutal, revealing, and all at once, thought provoking. 

Inside Out is a deceptive look into the black abyss of what goes on behind closed doors in the corridors of power and politics that is so close to reality, you wonder if, in fact, he’s writing fiction at all. 

If you love well-researched, well-written and well-plotted thrillers, this one is a must read! 

Thank you Barry, I can’t wait for the next one.

Rating : 8 / 10

Book Review: Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh

Title: THIRTEEN [Eddie Flynn #4]
Author: Steve Cavanagh
Publisher: Orion Books
ISBN: 9781409170662
Genre: Legal Thriller

BACK COVER BLURB

They were Hollywood’s hottest power couple. They had the world at their feet. Now one of them is dead and Hollywood star Robert Solomon is charged with the brutal murder of his beautiful wife.

This is the celebrity murder trial of the century and the defence want one man on their team: con artist turned lawyer Eddie Flynn.

All the evidence points to Robert’s guilt, but as the trial begins a series of sinister incidents in the court room start to raise doubts in Eddie’s mind.

What if there’s more than one actor in the courtroom?

What if the killer isn’t on trial? What if the killer is on the jury?

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. 

— Christopher McQuarrie, The Unusual Suspects

WHAT I THOUGHT

It doesn’t get any better than this! Steve Cavanagh has done it again, pulling out all the stops to bring another fast-paced, thrilling, rollercoaster read. A thoroughly compelling story in which the Devil truly is in the details. 

Eddie Flynn is back in the arena, the courtroom that is, playing the ‘fall’ guy and sitting second chair to Rudy Carp, the lawyer representing actor, Bobby Solomon, in the case of the century. Thing is, Eddie has been talked into playing the fall guy by going after the cops who, Carp has convinced Eddie, planted evidence at the scene of a heinous crime, implicating Bobby Solomon in the murder of his wife and security guard. 

While Eddie isn’t convinced either way, not yet at least, he’s taken the ‘second’ chair and, in doing so, the opportunity to do what he does best, because Carp Law has offered him something he needs right now. A boring, secure job in a big law firm, in order to win back his wife. He needs this, he tells himself. Because the one thing Eddie Flynn doesn’t want to lose right now, is his daughter. And if it means going ‘straight,’ and getting out of the way of the bad guys, Eddie is going to give it his best shot.

But not everything is going to go according to plan, as always. Cavanagh throws every possible spanner into the works, and mixes it up, putting Eddie back in the firing line, and in the sights of not just a couple of corrupt cops, but a serial killer. 

As always, the author amps up the tension on several levels, as Flynn and Carp get set to defend Bobby Solomon, unaware there is another player in the room. One who has his own agenda and, a need to kill. Cavanagh alternates between Flynn’s side of the story, told in the first person, and that of serial killer and clever chameleon, Joshua Kane—and if this creepy unnerving guy doesn’t give you goose bumps, no one will. 

I particularly like the way the author has written the alternating parts of this story, because while Kane is clearly a main story component, it’s through Eddie’s eye and thoughts that the story really opens up. Eddie is at the emotional heart of the story. Here’s a man trying hard to keep it altogether, because not only has he vowed to himself to do the right thing, but if he doesn’t change, he knows he will lose his wife and daughter for good. 

So while we read about Kane and his past, and what makes him a cold-blooded killer, heartless to a fault. Eddie keeps us grounded in reality. And, in between the sensational details of a murder trial, a game of cat and mouse begins. But rest assured, Eddie Flynn is no mouse. He’s going to need his background as a conman not just to help get Bobby Solomon off a murder conviction, but to out-smart, and out-play a killer in their midst.  

Aided by a well-round cast of characters that each have their own unique personalities, with some crackling twists and turns that had me furiously page turning, the climatic end left me almost breathless and dizzy. 

Intense, taut, adrenaline-fuelled, plausibly plotted, cleverly twisted, and masterly engineered to leave you wanting more. Eddie Flynn and his author deliver a thoroughly absorbing and entertaining read.

Highly recommended!

Rating: 9 / 10