Beware of clues!

Joanna Biggs

  • Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl
    Viking, 514 pp, £16.99, September 2006, ISBN 0 670 91607 2

I watched The Godfather for the first time with my little brother. I’d been worried he was too young for it, but that was before we got to the notorious scene in which the camera starts out hovering over Jack Woltz’s pool, climbs into his bedroom, then crawls up his sleeping body, finally pausing at a smear of blood on the top edge of his blanket. At this point, my brother announced that there would be a horse’s head under the blanket. I found it hard to believe that a ten-year-old who’d never seen the film knew what would happen next. I turned back to the screen. Woltz wakes up and, noticing the smear, starts drawing back the blanket to reveal a pool of blood. He pulls the blanket back further, and discovers a horse’s head at the foot of the bed, its glossy brown nose facing us, glassy eye to the ceiling. I turned back to my brother and asked him how he’d known. ‘The same thing happened in The Simpsons,’ he said.

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