Sunday, December 1, 2013

Night Film, by Marisha Pessl

Marisha Pessl, Night Film. New York: Random House, 2013. 596 pages. ISBN 9781400067886.

When I heard that Marisha Pessl had a new book out I was thrilled, and I have to say that I'm not disappointed. I loved her Special Topics in Calamity Physics, which was published in 2006 to overwhelmingly positive reviews, and became a best seller. Night Film is a worthy successor, and is every bit as engaging and compulsively readable as Special Topics was.

Night Film's protagonist is Scott McGrath, an investigative reporter who's struggling financially and personally after being set up by an anonymous source. The target of that investigation, Stanislas Cordova, sued him, resulting in McGrath losing both his job and his wife. He is intrigued when, years later, Cordova's young daughter Ashley commits suicide under mysterious circumstances, and he begins his investigation into Cordova's activities again. This time he has two amateur assistants, both of whom had come into contact with Ashley in the months and days before she died. Hopper spent time with Ashley during a camping experience with other wayward youth. Nora met Ashley the night before she died at the hotel where Nora worked as a coat check clerk.

McGrath, Nora, and Hopper begin to follow a trail of clues to track Ashley's last movements, discovering a bewildering web of relationships and lies. The tension builds as they delve deeper and deeper into her actions and try to determine her motivations.

I'm impressed with Pessl's writing; I can hardly believe that this is only her second book. The characters are well-drawn, and I found myself wanting to know more about them and what happened to them after the book ended. It was impossible to put this book down and I'll be recommending it to all of my friends who likes mysteries and thrillers.

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