Cult horror director Stanislas Cordova hasn't been seen in public since 1971. When his daughter Ashley is found dead in a believed suicide, journalist Scott McGrath is not convinced. For McGrath, another death connected to the legendary director seems more than a coincidence. Driven by revenge, curiosity and a need for the truth, he finds himself pulled into a hypnotic, disorientating world which begins to threaten his grip on reality.
An Amazon Best Book of the Month, August 2013: As she proved with her first book (Special Topics in Calamity Physics), Pessl is a sly, smart, sophisticated writer. What’s surprising about her elaborately plotted and addictive new novel is how it gets better as it grows more convoluted. I can envision a massive white board busy with diagrams and arrows to track the spider-webbed storyline. Once Pessl works past a few slow spots and finds her momentum, the story churns into a dark, propulsive, and insatiable mystery. The daughter of a reclusive horror film director is found dead, and a disgraced journalist and two sidekicks become obsessed with uncovering the truth of her death and the true identity of her infamous father, whose terrifying films (banned from theaters and found only via underground methods) depict what is “graphic and dark and gorgeous about life, thereby conquering the monsters of your mind.” Complex, shadowy, and a bit sad, Pessl’s riveting tale keeps us guessing until the final pages, along the way raising questions about reality, magic, art, fear, and celebrity. Sprinkled throughout are clever page props--website screenshots, news clippings, smudged police reports, and coffee-stained transcripts. It all holds together impressively, with a satisfying payoff that’ll leave you spent and sorry the ride is over. Special note to impatient readers (like me): stick with it, and savor it. You’ll be glad you did. --Neal Thompson