By Marisha Pessl
(Random House, Hardcover, 9781400067886, August 20, 2013. 624pp.)
The Short of It:
A completely absorbing literary thriller that’s both smart and alluring.
The Rest of It:
Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned building on a cold October night. Her death is ruled a suicide but investigative journalist Scott McGrath thinks otherwise. As the daughter of Stanislas Cordova, known for his horror films and his reclusive nature, Ashley’s mysterious death sparks the interest of many, including all of the fans who call themselves Cordovites. As Scott assembles a team to assist him in the investigation, his love of Cordova’s work and his obsession over the director himself, puts him front and center. Danger lurks everywhere and as they dig deeper into a life that has basically been in hiding for more than twenty years, the answers they find surprise them.
This novel will most likely be my favorite book of the year. I felt it within the first fifty pages and after 600+ pages, the feeling stuck This is the type of novel that makes reading an experience. I can’t deny ¬†it, I totally ignored my family while reading this one. The kids and Hub were left to forage for food, laundry piled up and the Otter Pup tried to sit on my head to get my attention. It’s hard to say if everyone will have this same reaction. I’ve seen a few reviews and some were less enthused by it, but there was much to love.
I’ll point out just a few of the things that made this a five-star read for me:
- Top-notch writing
- Engaging, likable characters
- The puzzle aspect of the story
- It’s all dark and drizzly and the cult-horror thing worked for me
- The inclusion of web pages, articles and the like to move the story along
- The fact that the films within the story were all made-up yet seemed fully fleshed out
- The back story of all the key players
- Pessl’s ability to toss red herrings in over and over again and somehow not lose the reader along the way
- Reading it felt absolutely forbidden which made it all the more appealing
In the midst of all this darkness, there is humor. McGrath’s self-deprecating nature made for some humorous moments and his love of the genre shines through, which makes his quest to find the truth even more plausible. it could have been edited down a bit but I didn’t mind since I ended up stretching it out for as long as I could anyway. In fact, I didn’t want it to end. As soon as I finished, I immediately had to talk about it with others who read it and that conversation even included possible casting choices for the movie, because I know it will be made into a film. Actually, I did see a listing for it on IMDb but I am not seeing it as of this writing.
That said, this entire review is based on how it made me feel while reading it. it sent shivers up my spine and there were times where I gasped out loud. It’s the type of book that will make you fall in love with reading all over again. I will say this, the inclusion of photos and news articles makes this book one that you want to read in print. Turning the page and seeing an obituary is quite startling. I don’t think you’d have the same reaction if someone just read it to you (audio) and I am not sure how those pages would translate in e-book form.
If you pick it up, let me know. I’d be interested in your thoughts.
Source: Sent to me by the publisher via Library Thing
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