Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Digital Audiobook narrated by Jake Weber
Published by Random House on August 20, 2013
Genres: Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Length: 592 pages or 23 hours, 9 minutes
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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.
Night Film is like the marriage between an Alfred Hitchcock film and the perfect film noir. It’s difficult to read the story and not imagine Humphrey Bogart acting as the determined Scott McGrath. It’s good, it’s really good. It’s also very slow paced, a bit boring at times, and the minor characters easily outshine the protagonist.
But the villain? The villain is sheer brilliance.
This was a book I wanted to devour. The twisted, dark journeys Marisha Pessl takes the reader on as you trail Scott in his investigation have the annoying feeling of only scratching the surface of an even darker, even more twisted reality. It is the veil laid upon director Stanislas Cordova that makes the whole thing bittersweet and delicious. You never really know if you can believe your eyes, or if your mind is simply playing tricks on you.
I love it.
In general, I am willing to put up with Marisha Pessl’s faults in writing – the things that make me want to groan and push the book away – because the story she writes so so immersive. She’s an author you either love or hate. I needed to know more about Cordova, needed to know more about the films, so I tolerated the slow pace of her storytelling. Because of how eccentrically wonderful Nora and Hopper were, I was able to forgive how much I disliked and was bored by Scott.
While reading this book, you need to get a taste for her writing. YOu have to make a choice of whether or not you’re going to stick it through, or if you’ve had enough. I’m seeing a lot of people of Goodreads putting it down at 200 pages, and I think that’s fair. It wasn’t until about 75% of the way through the book, while Scott is tearing lost through the Peak, that things got really, really good. But if you can’t get into a groove with the writing style, you’re not going to make it that far… and it’s worth mentioning.
Because of the noir-esque aspect of this, I also think that the audiobook is a great option. At nearly 1000 pages in its paperback version, Night Film is daunting. Listening to it on my commute definitely made this monstrous story more manageable, and added a little to the suspense.
In short, I really liked it, but I can see how this book – and Marisha’s writing in general – may not be for everybody.