Psychological and crime thriller novels have gotten more popular over the past few years, especially with “Gone Girl” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” as well as their subsequent movie adaptations. Keeping with the trend, Marisha Pessl wrote “Night Film,” an eerie page-turner that will keep you guessing until the final sentence.
Pessl’s sophomore novel follows investigative journalist Scott McGrath as he attempts to uncover the secrets behind the infamous and dark filmmaker Stanislas Cordova and his family after Cordova’s daughter, Ashley, is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in New York City. Her death is ruled a suicide, but McGrath thinks otherwise.
McGrath is assisted by two unlikely sidekicks: Nora, a seemingly homeless 19-year-old working as a coat-checker, and Hopper, a mysterious young drug dealer who knew Ashley long ago. Together, the three of them travel around New York, finding clues and answers to their undying questions regarding the Cordova family and the untimely death of the beautiful Ashley.
A lot of critics and reviews have compared “Night Film” to Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl,” but to me, this novel is more akin to Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” It deals a lot with deep, dark family secrets and mysteries, and it is even more fast-paced than “Gone Girl.”
The chapters tend to be relatively short—much like in James Patterson’s novels—which makes it feel like a quick read, regardless of the fact that it’s nearly 600 pages long.
As aforementioned, the story moves quickly, with new plot twists and crazy details every chapter. The novel also includes many magazine articles, newspaper clippings, website screenshots and other inserts that add to the story.
One of my favorite things about “Night Film” is the character development. I was constantly in awe by the way the characters were coming out of their safe places, opening up and growing throughout the novel. The author also does what other psychological thriller writers have been doing by creating a sense of untrustworthiness for everyone you are reading about. You never know who is telling the truth and who is lying.
If you are a diehard fan of crime and psychological thrillers with sharp, humorous characters, as well as an intriguing, dark family story, then look no further. “Night Film” is a great novel to pick up and read during the upcoming Halloween weekend.
Sleep with one eye open, though, because you never know who will be next.