FICTION

Night Film

Random.Aug. 2013. 624p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781400067886. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780679643913. F
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OrangeReviewStarWhen horror film director Stanislas Cordova's 24-year-old daughter, Ashley, turns up dead in New York City, an apparent suicide, investigative reporter Scott McGrath is convinced that there's more involved. Having been fired from his job over a story about the mysterious director, who has disappeared from public life, Scott reluctantly becomes fascinated with the details of Ashley's death and teams up with Nora, one of the last people to see Ashley alive, and Hopper, who may have been in love with Ashley. This trio follow multiple leads, mostly in and around New York City, finally deciding that an unauthorized visit to the director's fortress-like estate, hidden in the Adirondack Mountains, could solve some of the seemingly unanswerable questions surrounding Ashley's death. They learn that investigating a story is sometimes like following a plot in a movie: there are endless and frightening twists.
VERDICT Given an added dimension by Pessl, whose award-winning 2006 debut novel, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, roused many, this creepy and exciting mystery story effectively creates the character Cordova, who is never actually present but whose bleak artistic vision successfully imbues the novel with an ominous atmosphere. At times the narrative is a kind of detective procedural and slows down a bit over its considerable length, but the addition of photos, quotations, and background materials in differing formats adds a realistic element to a thrilling read. [See Prepub Alert, 2/18/13.]

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