Night Film

Night FilmNight Film by Marisha Pessl
Publisher: Random House
Released: August 1, 2013
Pages: 640
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On a damp October night, 24-year-old 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 Stanislaus 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.

It’s hard to be that specific about all the good things I want to say about Night Film. I think part of the strength of it is that it doesn’t en up being the kind of book you’d expect it to be, but I’m still not sure what I kind of book it actually is. Suffice to say, I really liked it, but not for the reasons the blurbs on the cover said i would.

The one thing it’s safe to call Night Film is a mystery, and as a mystery it works very well. It also has the potential to be a really thrilling thriller, but unfortunately it didn’t thrill me as much as I think it could have done. It had some moments of page-turning, but for me it never really built up the kind of suspense I think a book like this could and should have been able to do.

That said, I still found Night Film to be a really good book. It is a genuine mystery in a very well constructed setting. It left me feeling that it was always holding back, not just in what it told me, but also with the speed at which it was told. There are several set-ups for what seems like it is about to become a five page high-paced build-up to a climax. Night Film instead draws it out, more often than not stopping short of where it could have gone. I really liked this. I, as a reader, never get to know everything I want to know, but I get to know more than enough that I want to continue and find out what else the book will be kind enough to tell me.

It’s worth mentioning that I read this book on actual paper, as I was tipped off to it containing elements other than text. I’d pass on that recommendation. The pictures, newspaper-cuttings, screenshots and other non-standard content in this book probably could be made readable in a cleverly formatted ebook, but paper is probably needed to do it justice.

I wouldn’t have any reservations against recommending this book to anyone, but be prepared for a book that it not really a thriller, nor a crime-novel in the traditional sense. It’s a mystery, and a really good one.

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