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Night Film: A Novel | [Marisha Pessl]

Night Film: A Novel

On a damp October night, beautiful young Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Though her death is ruled a suicide, veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. As he probes the strange circumstances surrounding Ashley’s life and death, McGrath comes face-to-face with the legacy of her father: the legendary, reclusive, cult-horror-film director Stanislas Cordova - a man who hasn’t been seen in public for more than thirty years.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Editors Select, August 2013 - I don’t often find myself interested in literary psychological thrillers, but the early buzz on Night Film – a dark novel by Marisha Pressl (of Special Topics in Calamity Physics fame) – was enough to pique my interest. It’s been a long time since I’ve read something that’s legitimately creeped me out, and this novel opens with a ghost story that set the tone. I’ve only just started reading the book, and it already feels like something bad is lurking on the every page. Scott McGrath is a shamed journalist who takes a new interest in an old case when his former subject’s daughter turns up dead at the bottom of an abandoned building’s elevator shaft. The book hinges on Scott’s investigation into the victim’s family, particularly her reclusive filmmaking father, who put Scott out of business in the first place. It’s an absolutely chilling page-turner and will be even more frightening in audio. —Chris, Audible Editor

Publisher's Summary

Brilliant, haunting, breathtakingly suspenseful, Night Film is a superb literary thriller by the New York Times best-selling author of the "blockbuster debut" (People) Special Topics in Calamity Physics.

On a damp October night, beautiful young Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Though her death is ruled a suicide, veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. As he probes the strange circumstances surrounding Ashley’s life and death, McGrath comes face-to-face with the legacy of her father: the legendary, reclusive, cult-horror-film director Stanislas Cordova - a man who hasn’t been seen in public for more than 30 years.

For McGrath, another death connected to this seemingly cursed family dynasty seems more than just a coincidence. Though much has been written about Cordova’s dark and unsettling films, very little is known about the man himself.

Driven by revenge, curiosity, and a need for the truth, McGrath, with the aid of two strangers, is drawn deeper and deeper into Cordova’s eerie, hypnotic world.

The last time he got close to exposing the director, McGrath lost his marriage and his career. This time he might lose even more.

Night Film, the gorgeously written, spellbinding new novel by the dazzlingly inventive Marisha Pessl, will hold you in suspense to the final minute.

Download the accompanying reference guide.

©2013 Marisha Pessl (P)2013 Random House Audio

What Members Say

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3.9 (1582 )
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  •  
    Josh Caddo Valley, AR, United States 11-25-13
    Josh Caddo Valley, AR, United States 11-25-13 Member Since 2015

    Hi. Grad Student. Love thrillers: crime noir and even horror. I want to be really creeped out by authors with insight into the humans psyche

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    "Creepy Supernatural Noir"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Buy it. Pessl and Webber take the reader/listener on meandering trail of a plot. Scott, the protagonist and narrator can't trust anyone, but neither can you. The narrator is a disgraced journalist, after all. He may be imaging his allegations against the Kubrick-Polanski-Romero-inspired Stanislas Cordova. He's a horror film director who is as available to the public as the late J. D. Salinger. Ashley, the enigmatic (to make an understatement) daughter of Cordova and apparent suicide victim who sets the story in motion is cloaked in as much mystery as her father. Along with the intricately crafted mystery and the vocal performance of Jake Weber, you also get bonus material. Pessl went so far as to create mock newspaper articles, social media pages for Ashley, police reports, and online forums dedicated to the work of Stanislas Cordova. Audible offers them in the form of downloadable PDF files.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Night Film?

    When the supernatural element breeches the boundary of mere superstition and begins to affect Scott's daughter.


    What about Jake Weber’s performance did you like?

    He captured the tone of the book. It is a somber, borderline paranoid story told by a narrator who has become obsessed with the man who represents the ruination of his career. Whether or not his suspicion is justified, the narrator is obsessed, and Weber captures that in his performance. His various character voices are decent also.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It creeped me out, which is pretty much what I want out of every novel I read for pleasure.


    Any additional comments?

    Its a lengthy book that will keep you enthralled for every hour you listen. The bonus material is just cool. It's worth the money.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Byron Alpharetta, Georgia, United States 11-24-13
    Byron Alpharetta, Georgia, United States 11-24-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Dark, Intense and Special Story"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Night Film to be better than the print version?

    It would have been nice to see some of the special images and pics, but the spoken story was electrifying!!!


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Nora, she just seemed innocent but gritty at the same time!


    Have you listened to any of Jake Weber’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Not that I know of


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Interesting I found myself laughing quite often... I loved the little snide remarks thoughout!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michal L. Jones Shelocta, Pa USA 10-31-13
    Michal L. Jones Shelocta, Pa USA 10-31-13 Member Since 2013

    geomason

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    "In the Dark in the Night"

    This started out as your standard "mystery" story about a girl who committs sucide. But soon the twists and turns and dark magic come into play. Just about the time you think you have it "figured out" (and maybe you do in a sense) the whole thing collapases. What is real is real what isn't is (sorta') ... I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it ....

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kali Walnut Creek, CA 10-20-13
    Kali Walnut Creek, CA 10-20-13 Member Since 2014
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    "Freak the ferocious out!"

    “‘Anyway,’ he added softly, ‘a man’s ghoulish shadow is not the man.’” –Night Film, Marisha Pessl

    Night Film by Marisha Pessl is a big, bold statement of a book; released at the perfect time, right before Halloween when everyone is craving a scary story told in the dark. Pessl brings us “a myth, a monster, a mortal man” in Stanislas Cordova, the film producer at the core of the novel. He’s described as “a crevice, a black hole, an unspecified danger, a relentless outbreak of the unknown in our overexposed world.” Cordova’s films are outlawed (an inspired copycat killed a girl in imitation of one film), and bootlegged “black tapes” are passed among obsessive Cordovites. Renegade underground screenings of Cordova’s films take place, and fans flock to a secret website where they post their darkest secrets as well as the most mundane bits Cordova trivia. The film producer’s beautiful but haunted daughter Ashley commits suicide, and a ragged journalist past his prime, Scott McGrath, decides to look into the death. McGrath reluctantly picks up a few delightful sidekicks, and they begin to unravel the mystery surrounding Cordova, his family, and his films.

    I was originally listening to Night Film from Audible, and I realized I must be missing something as at times the narrator seemed to be reading captions from photos and newspaper articles. I discovered a used copy of Night Film at Diesel Books for $8 (score!) and was glad I did. The book features photos of Ashley before her death, articles and pictures from the New York Times on Cordova and his films, and other pieces of evidence displayed as they are discovered. Until they add a .pdf to the audiobook, I’d recommend grabbing an actual copy of the book to avoid missing out on the full story. There is additional media built around the book, including an app called the Night Film Decoder and Night Film found footage on the web. I’m sure cynics will see this as too much hype, but I saw it all as a great addition to the story.

    Night Film is reminiscent of the post-modern masterpiece House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski and the terrifying European hit Syndrome E by Frack Thilliez. All of these books are built around creepy (and nonexistent) films; in House of Leaves, a documentary about a house with shifting boundaries is studied, and in Syndrome E, a terrifying old film is found and blinds a man who watches it. I’m not sure why reading imagined documentation is so irresistable and terrifying. In Night Film, Pessl takes care to blend Cordova and his horrors into our current culture, pointing out details of the films in which fans have found meaning. This careful interweaving of fiction and reality heightens fear by making stories feel real. All these imagined dark films are made all the more terrifying by people’s reactions to watching them, which in the real world we just don’t see or experience. A man begins to lose his mind when reading about the documentary in House of Leaves; Cordova’s films are “so horrifying, audience members are known to pass out in terror.”

    I haven’t read Pessl’s first book, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, even though it was highly praised. It is now at the top of my list of books to get next. The plot of Night Film is fantastic, but being able to place the looming figure of Cordova believably at the center of our world took some serious writing talent. Pessl has wit, and displays it Night Film‘s moments of much-needed comic relief. The Night Film Quotes page on Goodreads is full of memorable gems. Night Film is the best kind of horror novel, with just the right amount of brains and brawn on board.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Briley ALEXANDRIA, VA, United States 10-15-13
    Briley ALEXANDRIA, VA, United States 10-15-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Absolutely Thrilling and Captivating"

    This is not normally the type of book I'd use a credit on. The synopsis alone would not have grabbed me, in fact, it may have pushed me away. I don't enjoy horror films at all (or horror fiction for that matter). But, thanks to NPR, I heard the first chapter of the book for free and was hooked. I finished this book in 3 days, and would even read it again. Pessl's way with words is beautiful, her characters are flawed but memorable, her twists and turns are unexpected. I don't want to give too much away here, but let's just say the ending had me yelling on the metro, which is generally frowned upon in the D.C. area. It was just that good. I'd love spin off books for each of these characters: that's how invested the author gets you. This is a credit worthy listen, but if you don't have a credit, just spend cash on it. You won't regret it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alice 10-03-13
    Alice 10-03-13 Member Since 2008

    Another Audible Addict

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    "Chillingly Captivating"

    Each bit of beautifully written information, you get while listening to this book is one more jeweled puzzle piece that you think will fit to make what you think is the whole picture, but if you are like me, you'll find the piece doesn't fit no matter where you think it may belong. It goes somewhere else.
    I loved this book and wish I could paint, like Marisha writes. It's a real life mystery. The performance was right on and the story one of my favorites. I will definitely be looking up more titles from Ms. Pessl in the future.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lee Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, United States 09-24-13
    Lee Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, United States 09-24-13 Member Since 2008

    Love scary stories and thrillers.

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    "A MOST INCREDIBLE STORY AND THEN... the end"

    Pessi has written a fascinating mystery with many twists and turns. The characters are very rich and layered, so much so you can clearly see them in your mind's eye. As soon as you think you know where the story's going, BAM-it changes again. I love creepy mysteries, and this one definitely fits the bill. Film actor Jake Weber does a fabulous job as narrator, and could be even pictured as our protagonist.

    I raced my way to the end, so excited to see where this roller coaster of a ride would take me. With that said, I can't help but feel ripped off by the ending. After so many ups and downs, the ending seemed too easy and not well thought out. After listening for 23 hours and becoming so immersed in the world Pessi created, I needed an ending that fit the story. It just wasn't there.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sharon United States 09-22-13
    Sharon United States 09-22-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A chilling and creepy tale!"

    This story takes you on a wild ride through the investigation of the young woman's death. The author did such an amazing job, the characters felt so real. It read like a true crime book, not a work of fiction.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jay Minneapolis, MN, United States 09-22-13
    Jay Minneapolis, MN, United States 09-22-13 Member Since 2004
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    "An Amazing and Disturbing Mystery"

    Let me start by saying that I'm a Marisha Pessl fan but I understand why some people might not be. She has written what I think are two stunning books but they are books that require the reader to wander through complex plots among characters with lives that are out of whack, away from the norm, until we reach the end of the book when we have to decide what just happened. All questions are not answered at the end of her books and I can see how that could bother some people. In Night Films Pessl creates a disturbing mystery involving a legendary but unseen horror movie maker, a diverse set of people connected to those movies, and an odd group of investigators who are thrown together to solve the mystery. Jake Weber's reading brings all the tension, anger and uncertainty of the plot through to the listeners.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen PEORIA, AZ, United States 09-21-13
    Karen PEORIA, AZ, United States 09-21-13 Member Since 2012
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    4
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    "Overwritten and exhausting"
    Any additional comments?

    I liked this sound of this story, and was able to bear through the first half. But I found it melodramatic, overwritten, conscious, and a bit immature. It was a bit of an eye-roller for me. When I realized there was a part three, I gave up on it-- 18 hours of writing reminiscent of a melodramatic teenager was enough, and I wasn't even curious enough to find out how it ends. Oh well.

    Narration was fine, though I found it a bit breathy and (third time's a charm!): melodramatic.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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