Those Who Perish
Reviewed by John Newton
It is inevitable, I suppose, that a thriller which features an Australian who is deaf, is bound to attract the attention of any deaf person and I am no exception. I lived and travelled in Australia for a year or more and learned to understand its huge attraction as a country. If I had visited a few decades earlier, I might have stayed.
This book is set in the remote southwest of Australia and has interesting connections with Aboriginal culture and a lot of Aussie slang. It’s quite a long way from Miss Marple or Sherlock Holmes.
I am not a fan of thrillers generally, but I persisted with this one because I firmly believe that the way to understand people in other places and times is to read the fiction produced about them. (It’s resoundingly obvious to remark that deafness is not a popular subject in fiction.)
Caleb Zelec, the hero of this tale is a private investigator, previously a cop, who is profoundly deaf and survives on a mixture of lip reading, sign language (Auslan in this context) and his hearing aids. Can you accept that, on occasions he talks to his car passenger using Auslan while driving at speed?!
He is an outsider, cut off from most of his friends and relatives. The story starts here when he finds himself summoned to protect his estranged brother from a mysterious threat.
The writing style is quite a long way from Arthur Conan Doyle, terse, almost like shorthand notes, which reflects the fast moving plot. It’s not always easy for the casual reader to follow the action and I suspect that this is because it’s part of a series. The reader is expected to be familiar with the characters. It follows that a newcomer to the series might be better to start with Resurrection Bay.
Whichever you choose I think you will be entertained and maybe even learn something about the consequences of deafness.