Review: Welcome to Bellevue by Seth Robinson

One of my favourite things to do as a reader is read the work of someone I know. Seth Robinson is a colleague and this, his first novel, is an action-packed and satisfying mystery.

Welcome to Bellevue begins on a boat, a ferry crossing a fog-bound sea. On the ferry is Harry, a 20-something writer who last remembers sitting on a couch in New York. He quickly finds out that he is not in New York, not on the east coast, possibly not in this world any more. More disturbingly, he seems to have mislaid parts of himself, particularly his surname.

Bellevue is quaint ghost-town of a seaside village, sandwiched between towering mountains and ocean. The locals are pleasant but a bit odd. Some of them might be fading away. And then a violent act cuts through Harry’s fog-addled brain and gets him wondering where he really is.

It’s a suspenseful, twisty plot that had me thinking one thing, and then wrong-footed me in the closing chapters, and I found the ending very satisfying. This is a novel about creativity and story, but never goes quite where you expect it to. I’m being vague because this is a book that rewards going in knowing little.

I enjoyed the mysterious atmosphere, which never feels laboured, and particularly enjoyed the setting, which put me in mind of those beautiful Norwegian islands you sometimes see on Instagram.

Harry is a charming guide to this world, with a writer’s eye for a good pun and gently sending up writerly clichés. I reckon people who like mysteries with some big ideas behind them will get a lot out of this.

Welcome to Bellevue is published by Grattan Street Press.

Gay rating: 0/5 – no queer characters

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