Noah Cross, Norma Desmond, Norman Bates, Harry Lime these are a few of nearly a hundred names that inhabit the mind of the narrator as he starts to compose short biographies of some of the most famous characters in the history of film noir. He sketches in whole lives, lives as intense as the dreams put up on the screen. Then these characters start to meet each other outside the films as if they were real people with real needs and passions. The book is becoming a novel. The names and faces are familiar to us - Jake Gittes from Chinatown, Laura Hunt and Waldo Lydecker from Laura Rick and Ilsa from Casablanca but is it true that Noah Cross and Norma Desmond were lovers in the twenties, that she and Joe Gillis had a son who grew up to be Julian Kay in American Gigolo? For the narrator is not merely the author. Married to the sister of Laura Hunt, he has a mission to carry out, a lost family link to find, a thread to pull so that nearly all these disparate characters come together to form a kind of society. Suspects is the most inspired of commentaries on film noir and the forms of Hollywood story-telling. It is in its way a biographical dictionary, but it is also a dazzlingly original work of fiction, so full of America, of an old man's dread of loss and failure, and of a simultaneous love and rage for these movies that you may find its impossible world as real and as touching as any you have ever inhabited. Ultimately an examination on how movies affect the way we think and how film not only shapes our perceptions and our memories but in some ways comes to stand in for them, Suspects can be read as an unsettling examination of identity and the construction of self through the medium of narratives, or simply as a fascinating take on movie fandom. Either way, it's fabulous.
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