NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
NPR • Cosmopolitan • Kirkus Reviews • BookPage
A page-turning thriller for readers of Stephen King, Gillian Flynn, and Stieg Larsson, Night Film tells the haunting story of a journalist who becomes obsessed with the mysterious death of a troubled prodigy—the daughter of an iconic, reclusive filmmaker.
On a damp October night, beautiful young Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Though her death is ruled a suicide, veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. As he probes the strange circumstances surrounding Ashley’s life and death, McGrath comes face-to-face with the legacy of her father: the legendary, reclusive cult-horror-film director Stanislas Cordova—a man who hasn’t been seen in public for more than thirty years.
For McGrath, another death connected to this seemingly cursed family dynasty seems more than just a coincidence. Though much has been written about Cordova’s dark and unsettling films, very little is known about the man himself.
Driven by revenge, curiosity, and a need for the truth, McGrath, with the aid of two strangers, is drawn deeper and deeper into Cordova’s eerie, hypnotic world.
The last time he got close to exposing the director, McGrath lost his marriage and his career. This time he might lose even more.
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.
Praise for Night Film
“Night Film has been precision-engineered to be read at high velocity, and its energy would be the envy of any summer blockbuster. Your average writer of thrillers should lust for Pessl’s deft touch with character.”—Joe Hill, The New York Times Book Review
“Mysterious and even a little head-spinning, an amazing act of imagination.”—Dean Baquet, The New York Times Book Review
“Maniacally clever . . . Cordova is a monomaniacal genius who creeps into the darkest crevices of the human psyche. . . . As a study of a great mythmaker, Night Film is an absorbing act of myth-making itself. . . . Dastardly fun . . . The plot feels like an M. C. Escher nightmare about Edgar Allan Poe. . . . You’ll miss your subway stop, let dinner burn and start sleeping with the lights on.”—The Washington Post
“Haunting . . . a suspenseful, sprawling page-turner.”—USA Today
“Entrancing and delightful . . . [a] whipsmart humdinger of a thriller . . . It feels, above all things, new.”—The Boston Globe
“Gripping . . . a masterful puzzle . . . Pessl builds up real suspense.”—Entertainment Weekly
“A very deeply imagined book . . . sprints to an ending that’s equal parts nagging and haunting: What lingers, beyond all the page-turning, is a density of possible clues that leaves you leafing backward, scanning fictional blog comments and newspaper clippings, positive there’s some secret detail that will snap everything into focus.”—New York
“Hypnotic . . . The real and the imaginary, life and art, are dizzyingly distorted not only in a Cordova night film . . . but in Pessl’s own Night Film as well.”—Vanity Fair
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
A shady and reclusive horror-movie director, the suicide of his daughter, and a disgraced journalist who refuses to give up—it’s hard not to get instantly hooked on Marisha Pessl’s brooding mystery. We tag along as investigative reporter Scott McGrath follows his hunch that something is not quite right with this headline-making death. Pessl frames the novel as if you’re reading McGrath’s files, with newspaper and magazine clippings, crumpled-up photographs, and journal entries teasing out the path of his investigation. It’s a brilliant device. We found ourselves drawn in deep, experiencing frustrating dead ends, fascinating and obscure details, and satisfying discoveries right alongside the book’s tenacious reporter.
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.
This book was wonderful in the way it sucked me in and had me not wanting to put it down but towards the end I was very tired of the constant running in a maze of clues and reveals that led to nowhere. It reminded me of taking hold of a thread in a woolen sweater and unraveling it until there was nothing left but a pile of woolen thread. In the end there was no end and the writer cheated the reader out of an ending. It was like sex with no climax. Sex that went on for too long trying to achieve an orgasm but without success, leaving you exhausted and just wishing for it to end. When I put my time and energy into anything, I want to feel satisfaction for having done that, instead of feeling I wasted my time. Early on I knew McGrath was being set up by Cordova and that all these people talking to him were orchestrated by Cordova in a real life movie of his creation. I also knew from the time that exchange of a child's soul was mentioned that Sam was the intended victim. There were too many points in the story never explained. For one the look of triumph on Villarde's face when Sam briefly disappeared in the store and his subsequent rush to run away as though he had accomplished his goal and was done with his part in the real life movie. There are many more but I don't feel that this is worth anymore of my valuable time. In summary, this was a book of great promise and great potential, but like a young life cut too short, it did not fulfill what could have been! Instead it became a wheel stuck in a muddy rut, unable to move out but continually spinning and just slinging mud everywhere over and over.
Too ambitious for its own good
This book had some interesting ideas. However, the author didn’t seem to have the talent to fully develop them. Instead, she threw everything and the kitchen sink at the reader, to the point where it was difficult and frustrating to keep track of the plot.
The multimedia approach was interesting at first. However, it quickly became more of a gimmick, i felt, designed to mask the author’s lack of talent.
I would’ve gladly sacrificed the “websites”and the “magazine articles” in exchange for a tight and coherent story, instead of one that ran the reader around in circles for no discernible reason. I wasn’t terribly impressed.
This book seriously reignited my love for reading. This is a story that stays with you for a long long time !