Investigative reporter Scott McGrath was hit with a libel case a few years back after he accused acclaimed underground film director Stanislas Cordova of having some less than savory contact with children. Flash forward to present day, a recovering career and his personal life on the rocks, McGrath reluctantly gets sucked into the world of Cordova once again following the suicide of Cordova’s daughter, Ashley. Teaming up with an enthusiastic, albeit naive, young actress along with a rough around the edges, yet determined figure from Ashley’s past, can McGrath clear the fog surrounding Cordova’s daughter’s sudden death or will he further damage his fledgling career by once again getting involved in Cordova’s business?
At a glance, Pessl’s Night Film can probably draw a few comparisons to Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. You’ve got an investigative journalist recovering from a libel case teaming up with a young girl about half his age to solve a mystery. However, that’s where it ends. People aren’t trotting around in Scandinavia, building IKEA furniture or eating Billy’s Pan Pizza.
Supposedly this was a highly anticipated novel, although I hadn’t actually heard anything surrounding it before a friend tweeted that she was up until 3am reading it. If anything can hit me with a recommendation for a book that caused them to lose sleep, I’m all over it. When I finally reached the end, I could certainly see why this could be the literary equivalent of a shot of espresso.
It doesn’t take long to realize that Pessl put a tremendous amount of work into this novel, from the mythos created surrounding Cordova’s extensive film catalog to the fictitious web articles inserted into the story. Hell, if you’ve got a smartphone, you can download an app that allows you to scan certain pages to unlock bonus content. While it’s not anything that’s absolutely necessary to the narrative, it’s there for people who really want to immerse themselves further into the mystery.
I had a great time reading this book and with the addition of the bonus content, it really enhanced the experience rather than making it feel gimmicky. I definitely recommend using it, if possible. Now, I need to track down Pessl’s other novel.