Clearly, the answer is D. I was drawn to this book because of the premise: the daughter of a renowned film director mysteriously commits suicide, and journalist Scott McGrath is investigating her death, and thus her life. The premise is actually strangely similar to Cuckoo’s Calling, but where Rowling’s mystery is fun and endearing, Pessl’s novel is dark, twisted, and complicated.
Set in New York City, the novel mirrors the grit and dirt of the city as McGrath searches for answers about Ashley Cordova’s death. McGrath quickly meets two younger characters who join him on his hunt, thus creating an amusing Three Musketeer scenario–a journalist, a drug dealer, and a struggling actress make for a very odd couple situation. I was worried when the threesome originally came together, but the characters worked surprisingly well despite being rather unbelievable.
What kept me turning the pages was the story of Stanislas Cordova, Ashley’s father. A recluse director who once created terrifying films that question humanity, Cordova lives in an estate in upstate New York called The Peak. There are very little pictures of Cordova, not much is known about his history, and yet his movies have created a huge cult following. As McGrath searches for information about Ashley, he must figure out who Cordova is–the man behind the night films.
One interesting aspect of the book is that it includes the newspaper articles, websites, and other print evidence that McGrath uncovers, so that the reader can investigate as well. While it was maybe unnecessary, this device did draw me in more, and make me feel more attached to the characters and the mystery. It gave everything a more realistic feeling, which makes the story that much more horrifying.
Night Film is a well-written, creative, dark and twisted novel. My only complaint is that Pessl loves her italics. There were so many unneeded instances of italics, it drove me nuts. See what I did there? But if you can get over the italics, and the unlikely trio of detectives, this book will draw you in until the last page turn.