Bibliophile | Deaf detective Caleb Zelic returns in ‘Darkness for Light’

Darkness For Light
by Emma Viskic
Echo Publishing

A bout of meningitis left Caleb Zelic deaf when he was 5 years of age so he became proficient at watching body language and picking up tell-tale signs that people try to hide. Lip reading can be full of hazards – beards, swollen lips and people looking away can lead to gaps in communication and confusion. And telephones are only useful for text messages.

Emma Viskic learnt Auslan sign language in order to introduce private detective Caleb Zelic to the world in her 2016 novel Resurrection Bay. After winning many awards, she followed up his adventures with And Fire Came Down and now in Darkness For Light. Zelic’s decisions haven’t always been the wisest, but he has made a resolution to start making good ones.

Separated from his pregnant wife Kat, he is in therapy to try to “navigate the rocky path between brink-of-divorce and coupledom”. He is also trying to reconnect with the Melbourne deaf community. Trying to run his detective business Trust Works alone after being betrayed by Frankie, his former business partner of five years, he finds that trouble has a way of finding him.

The trouble comes in the form of former Sergeant Francesca Reynolds, otherwise known as Frankie. With a Federal Police Officer threatening him and giving him 48 hours to find Frankie and get some documents from her, he finds he is the target of other people with the same aim.

Meanwhile, his friend Alberto is getting his café business sabotaged and while Zelic is doing what he can, he isn’t getting the lucky break to solve either case. As the countdown continues, Frankie’s niece is kidnapped she become the priority. Zelic is just praying that someone in the mess of characters will do something stupid… and that here won’t be too many homophones to mess with his lip-reading understanding.

What keeps the reader guessing, because we all hope for a happy ending, is that it is difficult to work out which characters are on the side of doing the ‘right thing’ and which are pathologically or selfishly evil. It’s difficult to put down this edgy narrative.

Lezly Herbert

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