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.
“…last night’s dreams had slipped into waking hours again, plucking at his thoughts with their blood-stained fingers.”
With her first novel, Resurrection Bay, Emma Viskic not only announced herself as a novelist to watch she also created a lead character in Caleb Zelic who you hoped could be sustained through a series of novels. That hope does however place a weight of expectation on subsequent novels and when I sat down to read And Fire Came Down, the second Caleb Zelic novel, I wondered if it would carry that expectation? I certainly think it does, and then some.
Firstly, Caleb Zelic is not only an excellent character, he is for many reasons not a particularly likeable one. He is prone to causing ‘train wrecks’ and it is often those closest to him who are injured, either physically or emotionally. He is also not a patient person and although some of this is due to his deafness, he has reckless determination to find answers whatever the cost doesn’t always endear him a character. He is not however a boring character and the same can be said for many of the supporting characters. Novels can sometimes have so much invested in the main character that the other characters are dull and lifeless, this is definitely not the case with And Fire Came Down. The story line is also very good and there are times when it moves at a cracking pace and, I think more importantly, there are also times when the story is slowed down allowing it and the reader time to breathe.
In conclusion And Fire Came Down is an excellent follow-up to Resurrection Bay and I’m looking forward to the next Emma Viskic novel with an eager anticipation.
An Iron Rose, Peter Temple
When Mac Faraday’s best friend is found hanging, the assumption is suicide. But Mac is far from convinced, and he’s a man who knows not to accept things at face value.
A regular at the local pub, a mainstay of the footy team, Mac is living the quiet life of a country blacksmith—a life connected to a place, connected to its people.
But Mac carries a burden of fear and vigilance from his old life.
And every favour has its price
Paid not in coin
But in flesh
Slice by slice
Sometimes a favourite novel by a much loved author isn’t their best, welcome to my latest Summer Favourites review, Peter Temple’s An Iron Rose. If you were to ask the question ‘which novel is Peter Temple’s best?’ then most would answer A Broken Shore or Truth. If I was to choose I’d say A Broken Shore, just, but neither are my favourite Temple, mine is his second novel An Iron Rose, a novel which I’ve read almost yearly since I purchased my Text Classic edition in 2012.
An Iron Rose begins with a phone call in the middle of the night, Mac Faraday’s friend, Ned Lowry, has been found hanging in the shed by his grandson Lew. In those early sentences Peter Temple sets the taut, sparse tone of the novel, best described as Effortless Style the title of Les Carlyon’s excellent introduction. Mac’s not just a blacksmith in a small country town, he has a past, one which he’d prefer not to visit but is prepared just in case. This is established early on by this interaction between Mac and the Detective Sergeant Shea who’s investigating Ned Lowry’s hanging.
‘Firearm on the premises.’
‘.38 Colt Python.’
I nodded again.
I savoured the moment. ‘Special permit.’
‘Special permit. That’s for what reason?’
I said, ‘See if they’ll tell you Detective Sergeant.’
As Mac investigates Ned’s past he’ll soon find that it he who has to visit his past..
A great novel for me isn’t just the main story, the small parts which fill in the gaps around the main story are also vital for a novel to succeed. The pub opposite the lane, the blacksmithing, the Brockley Football Club games and the garden restoration all add to An Iron Rose. Relationships and characters are also important with a great cast of locals, most notably DS Shea, who’s not a one dimensional character and Mac's namelees dog. In conclusion, An Iron Rose is a most enjoyable read and if A Broken Shore and Truth were Peter Temple’s virtuoso performances, then An Iron Rose is a helluva first jam session.
Postscript: Fans of Peter Temple will be pleased to learn that his Ned Kelly Award winning novel Shooting Star is due to be published as a Text Classic in May this year.