Finalist for the CWA (Crime Writers' Association) Gold Dagger
Finalist for John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Awards
The acclaimed debut thriller from Australia's most exciting new crime-writing talent, for fans of Jane Harper
Caleb Zelic's childhood friend has been brutally murderer—fingers broken, throat slit—at his home in Melbourne. Tortured by guilt, Caleb vows to track down the killer. But he's profoundly deaf; missed words and misread lips can lead to confusion, and trouble.
Fortunately, Caleb knows how to read people; a sideways glance, an unconvincing smile, speak volumes. When his friend Frankie, a former cop, offers to help, they soon discover the killer is on their tail.
Sensing that his ex-wife may also be in danger, Caleb insists they return to their hometown of Resurrection Bay. But here he learns that everyone—including his murdered friend—is hiding something. And the deeper he digs, the darker the secrets...
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Caleb was still holding him when the paramedics arrived.
Stupid to have called an ambulance – Gary was dead. Had
to be dead. Couldn’t breathe with his throat slit open like
that. Th e ambos seemed to think so, too. Th ey stopped
short of the blood-slicked kitchen tiles, their eyes on
Gary’s limp form in his arms. A man and a woman,
wearing blue uniforms and wary expressions. Th e woman
was talking, but her words slipped past him, too formless
‘It’s too late,’ he told her.
She stepped back. ‘You got a knife there, mate?
Something sharp?’ Speaking slowly now, each syllable a
distinct and well-formed shape.
‘No.’ The tightness didn’t leave her face, so he added,
‘I didn’t kill him.’
‘Anyone else in the house?’
‘No, but Gary’s kids’ll be home from school soon. Don’t
let them see him.’
She exchanged a glance with her colleague. ‘OK, how
about you put Gary down now, let us check him out?’
He nodded, but couldn’t seem to move. The ambos
conferred, then ventured closer. They coaxed his hands
loose and laid Gary gently on the fl oor, their fingers feeling
for a pulse that couldn’t be there. Blood on their gloves. On
him, too – coating his hands and arms, soaking the front
of his T-shirt. The material stuck to his chest, still warm.
Hands gripped him, urging him up, and he was somehow
walking. Out through the living room, past the upended
fi ling cabinet and slashed cushions, the shattered glass.
Away from the terrible thing that used to be Gary.
He blinked in the pallid Melbourne sun. The woman’s
voice hummed faintly, but he gazed past her to the street.
It looked the same as always – a row of blank-faced houses;
trampolines in the front yard, labradoodles in the back.
Th ere was his car, two wheels up on the curb. He’d been
fi nishing a job down the Peninsula when Gaz texted: a
great result, back-slapping all round. It had been an hour
before he’d read the message, another two in the car, stuck
behind every B-double and ageing Volvo. He should have
run the red lights. Broken the speed limits. The laws of
Police lights strobed the street as dusk turned to darkness.
Caleb sat on the back of the ambulance tray with a blanket
around his shoulders and the company of a pale and
silent constable who smelled of vomit. His own stomach
churned. He couldn’t rub the blood from his hands. It was
in his pores, under his nails. He scrubbed them against
his jeans as he watched strangers troop in and out of
Gary’s home. They carried clipboards and bags, and wore
little cotton booties over their shoes. Across the road, the
lights from the news vans illuminated the watching crowd:
neighbours, reporters, kids on bikes. He was too far away
to see their expressions, but could feel their excitement.
A charge in the air like an approaching storm.
The constable snapped to attention as someone
strode down the driveway towards them. It was the big
detective, the one who’d searched him and seemed a little
disappointed not to find the murder weapon. Around
Caleb’s age, mid-thirties at most, with short-cropped
hair and shoulders that challenged the seams of his suit.
Telleco? Temenko? Tedesco.
Tedesco stopped in front of the young policeman. ‘Move
the reporters back from the tape, Constable. If you feel the
urge to up-chuck again, aim it at them rather than the
crime scene.’ He turned to Caleb. ‘A few more questions,
Mr Zelic, then I’ll get you to make your statement down
Th e easy rhythms of a dust-bowl country town in his
speech, but his face was half-hidden by shadows. Caleb
shifted a few steps to draw him into the light.
Tedesco glanced from him to the nearest streetlight.
‘If it’s too dark for you we can move closer to the house.’
Metres from Gary’s body. Th e stench of blood and fear.
‘I take it you had more than just a business relationship
with Senior Constable Marsden.’
‘He’s a friend.’ No. No more present tense for Gary.
From now on, only past: I knew a man called Gary
Marsden, I loved him like a brother.
Tedesco was watching him: a face hewn from stone,
with all the warmth to match. He pulled a notebook from
‘This urgent call he made, asking you to come, can you
remember his exact words?’
‘I can show you, it was a text.’ His hand went to his
pocket, found it empty. Shit. He patted his jeans. ‘I’ve lost
my phone. Is it in the house?’
‘A text, not a call? Not too urgent, then. Could just be
a coincidence he asked you to come.’
‘No. Gaz always texted me, everyone does. And he was
worried. He always used correct grammar, but this was all
over the place. Something like, “Scott after me. Come my
house. Urgent. Don’t talk anyone. Anyone.” All in capitals.’
Tedesco flicked slowly through his notebook, then
wrote. Careful letters and punctuation, a fi rm, clear hand.
He’d be able to read that back in court without a stumble.
Gaz would have approved.
He kept his pen poised. ‘Who’s Scott?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘I don’t care what dodgy dealings your company’s
involved in, Mr Zelic. I’m homicide, not fraud, not
narcotics. So what are we talking about here? A deal gone
wrong? In over your heads with someone?’
‘No, there’s nothing like that. Trust Works is legit.
We do corporate security, fraud investigation, that sort
of thing. My partner’s an ex-cop – Frankie Reynolds. Ask
around, half the force can vouch for her.’
‘And Senior Constable Marsden? How does he fit in?’
‘He was just helping out on an insurance case, earning
a bit of extra cash.’
It had been a fl ash of fuck-I’m-good inspiration over
Friday-night beers with Gaz. A solution to a job that was
way too big for them. One that Frankie had tried to talk
him out of accepting. Why the hell hadn’t he listened to
Tedesco was talking again, asking if Gaz had . . .
something. Many problems? No, that couldn’t be right.
‘Money problems,’ Tedesco said. ‘You said he was
earning extra cash. Did he have money problems?’
‘No, but he’s got a young family, money always comes
in handy. Look, the case has to be connected. It’s a couple
of big warehouse robberies. Gaz thought the thieves had
an inside contact.’
‘Constable Marsden wasn’t killed by some dodgy
warehouse manager, Mr Zelic. He was executed. Executed
– that’s a word you don’t hear thrown around the outer
suburbs too often.’
A happy-looking word: a little smile for the first
syllable, a soft pucker for the third.
‘Blood all over the walls and ceiling.’ Tedesco waited
a beat. ‘All over you. Th at’s someone sending a message.
Who? And what?’
‘I don’t know. He was just talking to people. Nothing
dangerous, nothing . . . I don’t know.’
Th e detective’s eyes pinned him. Grey; the colour of
granite, not sky. If the silent stare was an interrogation
technique, it was wasted on him: he’d always found silence
safer than words.
‘Right,’ Tedesco fi nally said. ‘Come this way. I’ll get
someone to take you to the station.’
‘Wait. Th e dog, the kids’ dog, I didn’t see it. Is it . . .?’
The detective’s words were lost as he turned away,
but Caleb caught his expression. A fl ash of real emotion:
sorrow. Fuck. Poor bloody kids. Tedesco was halfway across
the road, striding towards the crowd. Later, deal with it
all later. Just hold it the fuck together now. He jogged
to catch up and followed Tedesco under the police tape.
Cameras turned their black snouts towards him. Lights,
thrusting microphones, a blurred roar of sound. He froze.
Tedesco was in front of him, his mouth moving quickly.
Something about parachutes? Parasites?
‘I don’t understand,’ Caleb said, then realised he was
signing. He tried again in English.
Th e detective gripped his arm and hauled him towards
a patrol car, half pushed him inside. Th e door slammed
shut, but couldn’t block the hungry faces.
Caleb closed his eyes and turned off his aids.
Scott. A soft name, just sibilance and air. Who the hell
was he? And why had Tedesco taken twenty seconds to
flick through a clearly blank notebook when Caleb had
mentioned his name?