Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Reviewed by Laura Richardson, Librarian
Looking back at it now, I can’t point out exactly what made Marisha Pessl’s book so chilling. Read Night Film after dark and maybe you’ll see what I mean.
A career-demolishing error causes Scott McGrath to put aside his investigation of Stanislas Cordova, reclusive film director. When Cordova’s daughter turns up dead, McGrath can’t help but return to the case -- no matter the cost. Cordova’s psychologically altering films are designed to expose the “blackened, overgrown place” that is the human mind, and McGrath begins to suspect that the lives of the Cordovas are just as dark and dangerous as the lives shown on screen.
An original mix of supplemental materials within the book and online (there’s an app!?), includes news articles, photographs, medical records, and even audio recordings. I love the focus that comes with following a long line of text from beginning to end with no distractions, but I found this multimedia storytelling experiment really fascinating.
I had to work pretty hard to suspend reality for Night Film, but not due to its suggestions of black magic and interference from the Underworld. The problem was McGrath. For a hotshot investigative reporter, he seemed like too much of a goof. After only a little persuasion, he allows two strangers to tag along and play detective with him. He brings his young daughter on treacherous missions, sometimes using her as bait. Still, he’s a fun narrator (even if he could stand to lay off the italics), and I’m glad I stuck with him.
Not that giving up on this book was ever an option. The relentless pace of the action fits together perfectly with the measured revelation of the mystery’s details. I had to know what happened next. If you’re up for a new type of reading experience and you like a good thriller, check this one out!
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