The library is closed Sunday, June 16

Night Film by Marisha Pessl

Night Film (2013), the latest novel by Marisha Pessl, author of Special Topics in Calamity Physics, recently caught my attention as I browsed audio books. Post-holidays, I wanted something entertaining and gripping, a mystery or thriller to spice things up a bit. Night Film hooked immediately. It's billed as a thriller, with a fair bit of scary thrown in for good measure. I don't typically go for scary, but given how great the writing, plot, and reader were, I gave it a go.

The story revolves around an investigative journalist, Scott McGrath, whose career is on the skids. Desperate to reboot his professional life, he is drawn to the mystery concerning a young woman, Ashley Cordova, who apparently has committed suicide. Or has she? Stanislas Cordova, a reclusive film director, who happens to be responsible for McGrath's career spiral, is Ashley's father. Cordova makes horror films that have been publicly banned due to their content, but his many fans gather to watch his movies on the down low. Did Ashley's father, or one of the many troubling characters who surround him, have a reason to make Ashley disappear? McGrath wants to find out, maybe getting an article out of the experience and to reboot his career, plus he wouldn't mind upsetting Cordova's life as Cordova has upset his. Two unlikely characters join him in the investigation, and the trio begin a search for information that turns out to be filled with dangerous twists and turns and puts their lives at risk.

The characterization is fantastic, but mind you, Night Film is a BIG book, a twenty-three hour listen, and there are MANY  characters. Perhaps Marisha Pessl could have benefited from a better editor? Still, I hung in there, captivated. Despite a few sluggish sections, this book is a highly entertaining page-turner. Turns out the audio book has a pdf attached that contains imagery that relates to the text, but I only found this out after returning it to the digital shelves. The images with the bound book rise up within the text, so I think I'll work with that next time. I will reread this book to see how it plays out as intended.

With Night Film, Marisha Pessl has created a whopping novel that, for me at least, wasn't too much of a horror story. I like being spooked once in while, and the creepy in this book was perfectly balanced by unique and nuanced characterization, great settings, and compelling conflicts.


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Karen S