Night Film – Marisha Pessl

Published October 2, 2015 by bibliobeth


What’s it all about?:

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.

What did I think?:

I hadn’t actually heard any hype about this book prior to it being released and I haven’t read the authors debut, Special Topics In Calamity Physics, but when I saw this book in Foyles I knew I had to have it. The author uses so much extra information to tell the story that I can only imagine how much research she had to do to pull it all together! We have photographs, author created web pages, newspaper clippings, interview transcripts and even an mobile phone app that when certain images are scanned, provides more content to enhance our reading experience. The writer Joe Hill compares the novel as a “multimedia presentation,” and we are bombarded with so much additional information that before long it felt like the events I was reading about had actually happened.

Ashley Cordova, daughter of the notorious and reclusive horror film maker Stanley Cordova has been found dead and the verdict is suicide. Our main character, journalist Scott McGrath is extremely suspicious that she took her own life. He has had dealings with Cordova before where he was determined to expose Cordova, shaming him very publicly in court. It was a case he lost and his reputation as a journalist was called into question, his career shattered and his marriage left in pieces. Scott is certain that there is nothing “accidental,” about the way Ashley died and assembles a motley crew of two, cloakroom attendant and wannabe actress Nora who checked Ashley’s coat the night she dies and Hopper, who went to camp with Ashley when he was a teenager to investigate the Cordova family like never before.

Scott soon finds there is much more to the Cordova brand then he had ever imagined. A plethora of mysterious deaths, whispers of the macabre and accusations of Satanism surround the acclaimed director, whose cult films became so horrifying that they were viewed underground by particular invite. Then we have the fact that all the actors and actresses who appeared in Cordova films are decidedly mute about the whole business and the director himself has not been seen in public since 1977. Scott’s initial frustration and desire for revenge quickly turns into a deadly game and an intoxicating mystery that I was unable to put down.

This is a hefty read, 640 pages in the paperback edition but never one I regretted starting. In fact, I was so invested in the story and so curious about how the pieces would all slot together that the pages whizzed by and I managed to finish it within a couple of days. I haven’t actually had a look at the additional content on the phone app, but the extra parts in the book made my experience of reading it quite special and unique. The author has clearly put a lot of work in when designing the photographs and other written transcripts and it all felt so authentic as if there was a cult film director out there called Stanley Cordova! It’s not perfect and the author tends to use her italics a bit too enthusiastically which became slightly annoying but I felt this was only a minor niggle considering the bounty we get as a reader in return. I shall definitely be checking out Marisha’s debut novel and if it’s anything like this I’m in for a treat!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):


2 comments on “Night Film – Marisha Pessl

Comments make me go to my happy place...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: