Night Film by Marisha Pessl Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Narrator: Jake Weber
Published by Random House Audio on August 20, 2013
Source: Library
Genres: Thriller
Length: 23 hrs 9 mins
Format: Audiobook
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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.

I really enjoyed Night Film and I have to say that it kept my attention all the way through, which at over 23 hours is pretty impressive. McGrath was not my favorite of the characters. I didn’t exactly understand his obsession, but I did like the two young adults who are his side-kicks. Their reasons for caring made more sense to me. He just let a story overtake him, their concerns are more personal.

It’s a long books and tends toward sprawling in places. It meanders and we follow trail after trail that (maybe) go nowhere. It’s not a novel with answers, just more questions. And that’s even before McGrath (maybe) loses touch with reality a bit. I have to say I really liked the whole set-up and the way reality mirrored fiction portraying reality – maybe.  I guess it’s one of those stories where I just went along for the ride, let Pessl lead me down the alleys she wanted to. I loved her writing style, until it slipped over into melodramatic. This book in general is like that. wonderful until it slides just over a line that makes you want to roll your eyes, but then it pulls itself back on track and you’re engrossed again.

Some books are best in print, some best on audio. Night Film is neither and both. I listened to the audio and had the ARC to refer to. The benefit of the print edition is the inclusion of things like web articles and photographs that just don’t translate well to audio. The downside of the print edition is the overuse of italics, apparently to give more gravitas to certain words or phrases, sometimes it worked, mostly it was not necessary. The benefit of the audio, then, in part is simply you don’t have to deal with the italics, you can hear the story without weird emphasis on words that don’t need it. It also seems shorter on audio, I think the book would have felt too long to me if I had been reading it in print. I wouldn’t have wanted them to get a move on with the plot. The downside: the audio is uneven. The narrator does a good job. He makes the story come alive, but sometimes the production seems off, all of a sudden it’s louder or there’s an awkward transition.

Overall, I’m glad I finally got around to reading this one. It’s not perfect, but there are a couple of scenes that I will definitely remember, like McGrath wandering around the sound stage or the description of Ashley playing the piano. I also really liked the ending, it felt appropriate.

About Marisha Pessl

Marisha Pessl (born October 26, 1977) is an American writer best known for her debut novel, Special Topics in Calamity Physics.