Darkness For Light, Emma Viskic
The third book in the Caleb Zelic series finds him working hard rebuilding his life and his business after the very heated ending of the previous novel, AND FIRE CAME DOWN. In the time since his on again / off again business partner Frankie has disappeared, but his ex-wife Kat, now pregnant with their child, is back. He's getting therapy for his problems (albeit frequently standing around in the Victoria Market), and he's reconnected with long time friends in the deaf community.
Newcomers to this series will find themselves having to sort through some rapid fire introductions to a very strong set of characters. Zelic is a private investigator, a deaf man with a complicated relationship with every woman in his life. Then there's Kat, his ex-wife, friend and artist, who along with her family are worthy of a novel in their own right, but Zelic is really is trying to work out what shape their future is going to take, while they both worry about the life of their baby due to past miscarriages. Finally there's business partner Frankie. She's harder to quantify, but goes from nowhere to be seen, to back in Zelic's life creating problems as always quickly. Things get ridiculously complicated when a prospective client is murdered; Frankie's sister is beaten up and her niece Tilda kidnapped. To say nothing of the lurking presence of a federal cop who may or may not be as dodgy, or not as dodgy, as Frankie. Nobody, including Zelic, can tell.
Caleb Zelic is one of those enduring crash bang sort of characters in Australian crime fiction that is capable of stuffing things up at lightning pace and resolving things at similar speed, somehow coming out of it with no clue how to make all the bad stuff never happen again. And not only is the reader happy to forgive him all of that, it's possible to actually like him for it. This is no slick, lone wolf, PI type, talking (or belting) his way into and out of trouble. He's much more of a car crash PI character who is wonderfully human, absolutely forgiveable and immensely likeable in a "come closer mate whilst I just slip my hands around your bloody stupid throat, then we'll decide if it's a hug or strangulation" way.
I admit there is always going to be a sneaking liking for an underdog in these parts, and obviously there's a level of vulnerability inherent in a character who is deaf relying on communication as a way of solving problems, but there's nothing manipulative or overtly sympathy seeking about Zelic. He beats himself up with a ferocity that allows the reader to spend a lot of time shouting "oh for goodness sake what are you doing now man" at the pages. Reading isn't often an interactive pastime, but that's just one of the pleasant surprises about this series.
A series that, in an ideal world, you'd be insisting people read from the start, although nothing's ideal these days, and what the hell. Read the Caleb Zelic series from the start, or start here, and read them backwards, individually, in any order, multiple times, anywhere, anytime. Just get on with reading these books.
After a lifetime of bad decisions troubled PI Caleb Zelic is finally making good ones. He's in therapy, reconnecting with the Deaf community, and reconciling with his beloved wife.
But he can’t escape his past.
A violent confrontation forces Caleb back into contact with his double-crossing partner, Frankie. When her niece is kidnapped, Frankie and Caleb must work together to save the child’s life. But their efforts will risk everything, including their own lives.