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Wanda's Book Reviews

I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles.  (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).

Bellevue Square / Michael Redhill

Bellevue Square - Michael Redhill

Jean Mason has a doppelganger. At least, that's what people tell her. Apparently it hangs out in Kensington Market, where it sometimes buys churros and shops for hats. Jean doesn't rattle easy, not like she used to. She's a grown woman with a husband and two kids, as well as a thriving business, and Toronto is a fresh start for the whole family. She certainly doesn't want to get involved in anything dubious, but still . . . why would two different strangers swear up and down they'd just seen her--with shorter hair furthermore?

Jean's curiosity quickly gets the better of her, and she visits the market, but sees no one who looks like her. The next day, she goes back to look again. And the day after that. Before she knows it, she's spending an hour here, an afternoon there, watching, taking notes, obsessing and getting scared. With the aid of a small army of locals who hang around in the market's only park, she expands her surveillance, making it known she'll pay for information or sightings. A peculiar collection of drug addicts, scam artists, philanthropists, philosophers and vagrants--the regulars of Bellevue Square--are eager to contribute to Jean's investigation. But when some of them start disappearing, it becomes apparent that her alleged double has a sinister agenda. Unless Jean stops her, she and everyone she cares about will face a fate stranger than death

 

I rate this book at 3.5 stars. This despite the fact that I almost quit reading about halfway through it. At that point, it seemed like just another domestic noir novel and I couldn’t see why it was a Giller prize finalist—what could it possibly offer to deserve that? But I was home on a snowy day, appointments cancelled, coffee waiting, reading blanket at the ready, and I decided that I would give it a few more pages.

Suddenly things took a completely unexpected turn. I found myself questioning everything. The rest of the book slaloms back and forth between realities until I couldn’t distinguish between them anymore. I was hooked.

And then it ended. Those of you who know me, know that I like messy and ambiguous endings. Except this one. I was left absolutely baffled and unsure what the point of the whole exercise actually was. This was too much even for me.

Apparently there are two more similar books to come. I doubt that I will bother with them after this experience.