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Night Film

Cover of Night Film

Night Film

A Novel
Borrow Borrow Borrow

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
NPR

  • Cosmopolitan
  • Kirkus Reviews
  • BookPage

    A page-turning thriller for readers of Stephen King, Gillian Flynn, and Stieg Larsson, Night Film tells the haunting story of a journalist who becomes obsessed with the mysterious death of a troubled prodigy--the daughter of an iconic, reclusive filmmaker.


    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.

    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 until you turn the final page.

    Praise for Night Film

    "Night Film has been precision-engineered to be read at high velocity, and its energy would be the envy of any summer blockbuster. Your average writer of thrillers should lust for Pessl's deft touch with character."--Joe Hill, The New York Times Book Review

    "Mysterious and even a little head-spinning, an amazing act of imagination."--Dean Baquet, The New York Times Book Review

    "Maniacally clever . . . Cordova is a monomaniacal genius who creeps into the darkest crevices of the human psyche. . . . As a study of a great mythmaker, Night Film is an absorbing act of myth-making itself. . . . Dastardly fun . . . The plot feels like an M. C. Escher nightmare about Edgar Allan Poe. . . . You'll miss your subway stop, let dinner burn and start sleeping with the lights on."--The Washington Post

    "Haunting . . . a suspenseful, sprawling page-turner."--USA Today

    "Entrancing and delightful . . . [a] whipsmart humdinger of a thriller . . . It feels, above all things, new."--The Boston Globe

    "Gripping . . . a masterful puzzle . . . Pessl builds up real suspense."--Entertainment Weekly

    "A very deeply imagined book . . . sprints to an ending that's equal parts nagging and haunting: What lingers, beyond all the page-turning, is a density of possible clues that leaves you leafing backward, scanning fictional blog comments and newspaper clippings, positive there's some secret detail that will snap everything into focus."--New York

    "Hypnotic . . . The real and the imaginary, life and art, are dizzyingly distorted not only in a Cordova night film . . . but in Pessl's own Night Film as well."--Vanity Fair

    From the Hardcover edition.
  • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

    NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
    NPR

  • Cosmopolitan
  • Kirkus Reviews
  • BookPage

    A page-turning thriller for readers of Stephen King, Gillian Flynn, and Stieg Larsson, Night Film tells the haunting story of a journalist who becomes obsessed with the mysterious death of a troubled prodigy--the daughter of an iconic, reclusive filmmaker.


    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.

    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 until you turn the final page.

    Praise for Night Film

    "Night Film has been precision-engineered to be read at high velocity, and its energy would be the envy of any summer blockbuster. Your average writer of thrillers should lust for Pessl's deft touch with character."--Joe Hill, The New York Times Book Review

    "Mysterious and even a little head-spinning, an amazing act of imagination."--Dean Baquet, The New York Times Book Review

    "Maniacally clever . . . Cordova is a monomaniacal genius who creeps into the darkest crevices of the human psyche. . . . As a study of a great mythmaker, Night Film is an absorbing act of myth-making itself. . . . Dastardly fun . . . The plot feels like an M. C. Escher nightmare about Edgar Allan Poe. . . . You'll miss your subway stop, let dinner burn and start sleeping with the lights on."--The Washington Post

    "Haunting . . . a suspenseful, sprawling page-turner."--USA Today

    "Entrancing and delightful . . . [a] whipsmart humdinger of a thriller . . . It feels, above all things, new."--The Boston Globe

    "Gripping . . . a masterful puzzle . . . Pessl builds up real suspense."--Entertainment Weekly

    "A very deeply imagined book . . . sprints to an ending that's equal parts nagging and haunting: What lingers, beyond all the page-turning, is a density of possible clues that leaves you leafing backward, scanning fictional blog comments and newspaper clippings, positive there's some secret detail that will snap everything into focus."--New York

    "Hypnotic . . . The real and the imaginary, life and art, are dizzyingly distorted not only in a Cordova night film . . . but in Pessl's own Night Film as well."--Vanity Fair

    From the Hardcover edition.
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    • From the book

      PROLOGUENew York City
      2:32 AM

      Everyone has a Cordova story, whether they like it or not.
      Maybe your next-door neighbor found one of his movies in an old box in her attic and never entered a dark room alone again. Or, your boyfriend bragged he'd discovered a contraband copy of At Night All Birds Are Black on the Internet and after watching, refused to speak of it, as if it were a horrific ordeal he'd barely survived.
      Whatever your opinion of Cordova, however obsessed with his work or indifferent---he's there to react against. He's a crevice, a black hole, an unspecified danger, a relentless outbreak of the unknown in our overexposed world. He's underground, looming unseen in the corners of the dark. He's down under the railway bridge in the river with all the missing evidence, and the answers that will never see the light of day.
      He's a myth, a monster, and a mortal man.
      And yet, I can't help but believe when you need him the most, Cordova has a way of heading straight toward you, like a mysterious guest you notice across the room at a crowded party. In the blink of an eye, he's right beside you by the fruit punch, staring back at you when you turn and casually ask the time.
      My Cordova tale began for the second time on a rainy, mid-October night, when I was just another man running in circles, going nowhere as fast as I could. I was jogging around Central Park's Reservoir after two A.M--a risky habit I'd adopted during the past year when I was too strung out to sleep, hounded by an inertia I couldn't explain, except for the vague understanding that the best part of my life was behind me, and that sense of possibility I'd once had so innately as a young man, was now gone.
      It was cold and I was soaked. The gravel track was rutted with puddles, the black waters of the Reservoir cloaked in mist. It clogged the reeds along the bank and erased the outskirts of the Park as if it were nothing but paper, the edges torn away. All I could see of the grand buildings along Fifth Avenue were a few gold lights burning through the gloom, reflecting on the water's edge like dull coins tossed in. Every time I sprinted past one of the iron lampposts, my shadow surged past me, quickly grew faint, and then peeled off--as if it didn't have the nerve to stay.
      I was bypassing the south gatehouse, starting my sixth lap, when I glanced over my shoulder and saw someone was behind me.
      A woman was standing in front of a lamppost, her face in shadow, her red coat catching the light behind her, making a vivid red slice in the night.
      A young woman out here alone? Was she crazy?
      I turned back, faintly irritated by the girl's naiveté--or recklessness, whatever it was that brought her out here. Women of Manhattan, magnificent as they were, they forgot sometimes they weren't immortal. They could throw themselves like confetti into a fun-filled Friday night, with no thought as to what crack they fell into by Saturday.
      The track straightened north, rain needling my face, the branches hanging low, forming a crude tunnel overhead. I veered past rows of benches and the curved bridge, mud splattering my shins.
      The woman---whoever she was---appeared to have disappeared.
      But then--far ahead, a flicker of red. It vanished as soon as I saw it, then seconds later, I could make out a thin dark silhouette walking slowly in front of me along the iron railing. She was wearing black boots, her dark hair hanging halfway down her back. I picked up my pace, deciding to pass her exactly when she was beside a lamppost so I could take a closer look and make sure she was...

    About the Author-
    • Marisha Pessl's bestselling debut novel, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, won the John Sargent Sr. First Novel Prize (now the Center for Fiction's Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize), and was selected as one of the 10 Best Books of the Year by The New York Times Book Review. Pessl grew up in Asheville, North Carolina, and currently resides in New York City.

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      Random House Publishing Group
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