Today I am bringing you a spoiler-free review of Night Film, an adult thriller/murder mystery by Marisha Pessl. I have quite a lot to say about this book so prepare yourself. If you’re interested in acquiring a copy, please click here. I will be keeping this review entirely spoiler-free so do not fear to read on. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
When Ashley Cordova – daughter of cult-film director Stanislas Cordova – is found dead, it is ruled as suicide. Investigative journalist, Scott McGrath, believes it to be murder. The last time he went up against the Cordova family, he lost his career and marriage. This time, he is determined to reveal them as the dark sadists he knows them truly to be…
The main thing I loved about this book was the mixed media. There are photographs, newspaper articles, website pages and more (see below). It makes the story feel more authentic and engaging. I am a huge fan of novels being presented in different formats. It was the primary reason I invested in this book to begin with.
Okay, here is where it went a bit downhill for me. Scott McGrath, our protagonist and investigative journalist was extremely irritating in my opinion. For starters, he is terrible at his job. Not only does he divulge information about the case to complete strangers but he also invites a drug dealer into his home where his young daughter stays when she is not with her mother. Obsessed with the Cordova family, Scott brings his daughter to an abandoned warehouse to follow up on a lead, endangering her and occasionally badmouthing her mother. He did not feel realistic to me in the slightest. Yes, characters are meant to be flawed, but he was ridiculously selfish, naive and downright stupid at times. This lost a star for me.
His sidekicks, Nora and Hopper were also quite unrealistic. Nora was over-the-top eccentric and Hopper just appeared and disappeared when he wanted to. I couldn’t buy into them. I found it so hard to believe that they would want to tag along with Scott and offer all their time and energy into finding out what happened to Ashley.
I will say however, that I liked the mystery surrounding the Cordova family. Marisha did a great job building their back-stories without actually introducing them. That was clever.
THE WRITING STYLE
The writing style for me was the biggest negative of all. The dialogue was 100% unrealistic. The way the characters spoke was not normal. For example, 19 year old Nora would express herself like: “as I rose, I noticed her standing there and I placed my…” Teenagers do not speak this way. The book was set in modern day. This continued throughout the whole novel and it irritated me to no end. Also, almost every second sentence was italicised incorrectly. I found myself very annoyed by this repetition. On the plus side, it was paced well (albeit a big too long) and flowed nicely. There were some instances that were a bit too convenient for my liking but I guess they had to push the plot along somehow. The ending was not overly satisfactory but I was intrigued to learn how it would all come together. Overall, the writing style led me to not be interested in reading Marisha’s other works.
I gave this book 3/5 stars. It wouldn’t be the first mystery/thriller book I recommend to others but it had enough redeeming qualities to not dip under 3 stars.
I hope you enjoyed this honest, spoiler-free review. Feel free to order a copy for yourself from the link above.
Thank you for reading
Peace & Love xoxo
Disclaimer: This post contains links to my Book Depository Affiliate which helps fund my blog, I am not being paid or sponsored for this post/products – all my thoughts/opinions are my own