Personal connections have always defined Emma Viskic’s dogged private investigator Caleb Zelic, and seem to be the thing that draws him in trouble. The latest entry in this award winning series, Those Who Perish, opens with Zelic rushing to find his brother Antony who is being targeted by a sniper. Much of the tension in this novel is generated by the opposing forces of Zelic’s desire to protect his brother while finding out who the shooter is but also to maintain the fragile relationship with his pregnant partner Kat.
Caleb and Kat are back in Resurrection Bay, awaiting the birth of their child. After the shootout, Zelic learns that his brother is undergoing rehab on a small island, thirty minutes ferry ride from the Bay. Zelic blames himself for his brother’s slide back into addiction, and while he wants Antony to get clean, is wary of the rehab facility and its potential dodgy director and the threats that are being levelled across the island by the mystery shooter. At the same time, Zelic has been asked to investigate a series of photos being spread on social media that are damaging the reputation of the cash-strapped local football club. So there is plenty going on, and once again Zelic finds himself in the crosshairs.
Caleb Zelic again shines in the central role in this series. Loyal, dogged and intuitive, not beyond blowing up his relationships to get at the truth but big enough to admit that sometimes his deductions get ahead of him. As always, Zelic’s deafness and his relationship with the deaf community and with his family, inform his actions but do not define him as a character. And while he learns slowly, he remains flawed so much so that sometimes readers might want to grab him and tell him to take a second and think about his life.
Those Who Perish is apparently the final novel in the Caleb Zelic series. From its Ned Kelly Award winning launch in Resurrection Bay, the Zelic series has been a highlight of the Australian crime fiction scene. And Those Who Perish is no exception. What is exciting now is to consider what Viskic might deliver next.