cover image Alfred Hitchcock: A Brief Life

Alfred Hitchcock: A Brief Life

Peter Ackroyd. Doubleday/Talese, $26.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-385-53741-4

“Why another book about Alfred Hitchcock?” is the question readers may ask themselves before beginning the latest offering from Ackroyd (Wilkie Collins). The answer becomes clear in the opening chapter, which stresses the significance of the acclaimed director’s strict Catholic upbringing in early 20th century London. Hitchcock, “the Master of Suspense,” is introduced as a fearful, eccentric, and solitary figure whose life and work were profoundly impacted by his Jesuit education. The author, himself a Londoner who was raised as a Catholic, is the perfect candidate to explore this fascinating aspect of the director’s character, but Ackroyd often changes course while trying to cram his subject’s 80 years into a single slim volume. The book’s pacing feels rushed as Ackroyd introduces an array of Hitchcock’s famous friends and collaborators, including producer David O. Selznick, costume designer Edith Head, and filmmaker François Truffaut. Despite the limited scope of this condensed account, it should find an audience with Hitchcock novices eager to consume a vigorous and immensely readable study of a consummate film craftsman. (Oct.)