Author: Marisha Pessl
Publisher: Random House
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After dropping the massive smash Special Topics in Calamity Physics, Marisha Pessl kept the world waiting seven years for the follow-up. Reading Night Film, you can only assume she spent those years plotting out the intricate mystery, turning her office into a Post-It note disaster.
Night Film's protagonist is Scott McGrath, a disgraced reporter whose past obsession with enigmatic horror filmmaker Stanislas Cordova gets rekindled once Cordova's daughter, a mentally disturbed Carnegie Hall pianist, commits suicide. McGrath forms a motley crew of investigators with two younger characters with their own shrouded connections to Ashley, and together McGrath's team fall deeper and deeper down the Cordova rabbit hole, a labyrinth of occultism, death, and cult-like fans.
Pessl tends to overwrite at times, especially with her overbearing use of italics, but she's able to rectify those faults through imagination and ingenuity. Night Film often feels like a literal cyber thriller—it's an interactive experience packed with fake website pages, faux message board threads, newspaper clippings, magazine interviews with Stanislas, and other visual evidence (i.e., photographs of a flesh-and-blood Ashley) that are given full-page treatments. The overall effect is both exhilarating and unnerving. —Matt Barone