Night Film is a breathtakingly suspenseful literary thriller that makes you question how you decide what is real and what isn't from the critically acclaimed author of Special Topics in Calamity Physics
Marisha Pessl was born in Michigan in 1977, and now lives in New York. Her previous and debut novel, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, was published to rave reviews and established her as one of the most astute and exciting novelists writing today.
When horror film director Stanislas Cordova's 24-year-old daughter, Ashley, turns up dead in New York City, an apparent suicide, investigative reporter Scott McGrath is convinced that there's more involved. Having been fired from his job over a story about the mysterious director, who has disappeared from public life, Scott reluctantly becomes fascinated with the details of Ashley's death and teams up with Nora, one of the last people to see Ashley alive, and Hopper, who may have been in love with Ashley. This trio follow multiple leads, mostly in and around New York City, finally deciding that an unauthorized visit to the director's fortress-like estate, hidden in the Adirondack Mountains, could solve some of the seemingly unanswerable questions surrounding Ashley's death. They learn that investigating a story is sometimes like following a plot in a movie: there are endless and frightening twists. VERDICT Given an added dimension by Pessl, whose award-winning 2006 debut novel, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, roused many, this creepy and exciting mystery story effectively creates the character Cordova, who is never actually present but whose bleak artistic vision successfully imbues the novel with an ominous atmosphere. At times the narrative is a kind of detective procedural and slows down a bit over its considerable length, but the addition of photos, quotations, and background materials in differing formats adds a realistic element to a thrilling read. [See Prepub Alert, 2/18/13.]-James Coan, SUNY at Oneonta Lib. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Seven years after Special Topics in Calamity Physics, Pessl returns with a novel as twisted and intelligent as that lauded debut. Again, the story centers on a father-daughter relationship, but this time the sinister element is front and center, beginning with the daughter's death. The "night films" of Stanislas Cordova have a cult following: fans hold underground screenings and claim that to see his work is to "leave your old self behind, walk through hell, and be reborn." Ashley Cordova is his enigmatic daughter; she appears in his final film at the age of eight, debuts as a pianist at Carnegie Hall at 12, and apparently commits suicide at 24. Scott McGrath is a reporter who lost his job investigating Stanislas and can't resist his need to uncover the real story of Ashley's death. Though the structure is classic noir, Pessl delivers lifelike horror with glimpses, in the form of faux Web sites, of the secretive Stanislas, his films, and his fans. Things slow down when Scott breaks into Stanislas's estate; sustained terror depends on what is withheld, not what is shown. But Pessl does wonderful work giving the hard-headed Scott reason to question the cause of Ashley's death, and readers will be torn between logic and magic. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Deliciously spine-tingling... all-consuming and mind-altering. Nothing else matters while there are pages to turn and, once the book is over, the world seems an emptier place." * Daily Telegraph *
"This month's smartest (and creepiest) new novel is a hell of a read . . . An intensely writerly project that doesn't jettison the reader . . . It explores how stories seep from texts into the world; not only in that it follows a journalist investigating a cult horror-film director whose life is entangled in his fictions, but also because the pages are peppered with fake news article and websites. A narrative signifying narratives, this novel echoes . . . The action bullet-trains through an artfully plotted world of secret screenings and suspicious deaths." * GQ (Book of the Month) *
"Night Film, the gorgeously written, spellbinding new novel by the dazzlingly inventive Marisha Pessl, will hold you in suspense until you turn the final page." * Stylist *
"When Cordova's beautiful daughter is found dead in a warehouse, McGrath can't help but pick up the trail. His pacy narrative voice is interrupted by magazine interviews, text messages, Facebook pages; a Cordova fan forum even pops up on the printed page . . . The result is multiple narratives that read like real life (or a more exciting version of it) . . . Night Film doesn't cease to be with its last full stop. [Pessl] has developed a phone app and a website with extra material - a savvy move." * Vogue *
"The real and the imaginary, life and art, are dizzyingly distorted not only in a Cordova night film - which a fictional Time article calls "a spellbinding and emotionally harrowing experience" - but in Pessl's own Night Film as well. McGrath's prologue opens with a dictum "Everyone has a Cordova story, whether they like it or not." This book is ours." * Vanity Fair *