Review From User :
Give me a movie and I'll find the meaning; I'll find the truth; I'll find the story. Sometimes I'll find all three.
Meet Marissa Dahl, an endearing film editor, who might be perceiving the world slightly differently from you - she is clearly on the spectrum and has to work very hard to survive in this world of human interactions, body language, smiles, jokes, irony, meaningful looks and silences. Marissa is also brilliant at what she does. She lives, feels and breathes movies. She thinks in movie scenes. They are her anchor in this ever changing mysterious world.
When Marissa perceives Amy, her best friend / film director she has been working close for a very long time with/ flatmate needs some time and space for her relationship with Josh, Marissa with her characteristic sensitivity moves out. Now she needs to get a job as soon as possible and she can't be choosy. Her agent arranges an interview during which Marissa is shown a still and is asked to analyse it. Marissa correctly guesses it is from a true crime movie and is hired on the spot. Normally she would ask for a script, but the director is so well-known that she is willing to put up with a few eccentricities. She is whisked away onto an isolated island where the actual crime occured. The murder has remained unsolved. Everything about this production feels wrong. There is an ex-SEAL who is providing security, nobody would talk about why the previous film editor was fired, and there are also weird accidents and mishaps. Marissa starts investigating.
It's the same world as yours. I just notice it differently.
I fell in love with Marissa and her quirky sense of humour. The events are narrated from her point of view, so we get to know this kind and selfless character really well. There are also excerpts from a hilarious 'true crime podcast' which features interviews with secondary characters. The podcast was created by Grace and Suzy - two courageous and extremely creative teenage girls. These aspiring detectives, who happen to be children of cooks working in the hotel/production set, managed to do things even an experienced security professional couldn't have imagined were possible. I love the way Marissa always behaved as a mature and responsible adult with them. There are other fantastic secondary characters you will enjoy reading about, including the above mentioned ex-SEAL.
The book is full of names and movie references, but I didn't mind it at all. For me, in a subtle (or maybe not so subtle) and ironic way, it mirrored the way Marissa navigates the world that keeps throwing information at her which everybody seems to know about and understand, while she needs to study it carefully before she can determine its relevance and significance.
Without giving away too much of the story, it is also a brilliant exploration of authenticity and its role in our culture.
Well-written, fast-paced, extremely entertaining, but also deep and thought-provoking, Pretty as a Picture was a delight to read. I will be looking forward to reading any future book written by Elizabeth Little and I wish this one all the success it deserves.
Thank you to Edelweiss and Viking for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.
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