Chasing the legend

I found Marisha Pessl's Night film unexpectedly enjoyable - and it managed to keep me tossing and turning for a night, surely what any thriller / horror story aspires to do. This was a very unusual read peppered with pages from the internet, and faux articles from Rolling Stone and Time. Scott McGrath, an investigative journalist, is going nowhere. His career has stalled after he accused a prominent film director, Stanislas Cordova, of child murder. Cordova is an auteur, beloved by his fans, who leads an obsessively private life - think Hitchcock mixed with a good dash of Stanley Kubrick and William Randolph Hearst. When Cordova's daughter, Ashley, commits suicide, McGrath ends up investigating again. Though her death appears to be a suicide McGrath is unconvinced, and starts working on the case with the help of Nora, a would-be actress, and Hopper, Ashley's ex-lover.

The work moves from thriller to horror to literary fiction as McGrath becomes embroiled in a mystery that may have a very scientific or an equally supernatural explanation.

Pessl moves from reality to illusion seamlessly making the reader feel every bit as confused as the central protagonist. If Cordova's films have a reputation for enabling the viewer to feel disorientated, unable to differentiate between real life and life onscreen, Pessl plays exactly the same game with her reader.

OK, some of the characterisation borders on the wooden. It is sometimes hugely over the top in true Grand Guignol style, and the ending seems rather weak, but there's lots to enjoy in this big tome. There's a wonderfully blackly comic edge to it which sometimes reduced me to giggles, and it can be incredibly scary, with some sections reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe. It might not be the best bit of fiction you've ever read, but if you're into thrillers and / or horror, I dare you not to enjoy it.

PS Don't read after dark!!!


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