Marisha Pessl wasn’t meant to be an office worker. In fact, while working at PricewaterhouseCoopers after college, she started drafting her debut novel, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, a literary-reference-riddled murder mystery that earned popular and critical acclaim when it was released in 2006. Seven years later, she’s returned with an even darker pulp mystery, Night Film. The novel begins with the death of Ashley Cordova, a 24-year-old former piano prodigy and daughter of cult horror film director Stanislas Cordova. It follows a scrappy journalist as he examines the director’s isolated, mythical estate and his deathly horrifying films in an attempt to find out what led to Ashley’s death. Over 600 pages, the work touches on insane asylums, abandoned warehouses, sex clubs, and witchcraft, yielding vividly cinematic results. By creating a kind of terror that lies somewhere between Stephen King and ’70s slasher movies, Pessl draws readers in and creeps them out at the same time. How’s that for an escape from cubicle monotony? Marisha Pessl reads at 7 p.m. at Politics & Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. politics-prose.com.