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Man Says He Was Defamed by Character in ‘The Unseen’

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A San Francisco man claims novelist Alexandra Sokoloff defamed him in her 2009 thriller, "The Unseen," creating a character with his name and description, who has "violent, sexually predatory and abusive" tendencies.

In his Superior Court complaint, Brendan Cody says he met Sokoloff at a writers' conference in San Diego in 2007. He says they became friends and continued their friendship over the next two years, sharing "private information and confidences via email."

But that friendship ended in May 2009, when he says he read Sokoloff's new novel and found that the main character was based on a mixture of his own biography and embellishments that make him look like a "manipulative con artist."

"The Unseen" follows two psychology professors as they investigate paranormal happenings at a North Carolina ghost house.

Cody claims the book's main character, also named Brendan Cody, has his height, hair color, freckles, age, Irish-American heritage and a graduate degree from University of California at Berkeley.

Cody says the character also shares traits with him that he told Sokoloff in confidence.

Both Cody and the character suffer from cyclothymic bipolarity, a mood disorder, and have both a personal and familial history of alcoholism, Cody says.

Cody says that Sokoloff added defamatory traits to the character she based on him.

In the book, Sokoloff allegedly makes repeated references to Cody's escalating rage. Toward the end, he ties up the book's heroine and leaves her in the attic of what the characters believe is a haunted house, "possibly to die."

The Cody character has a habit of continually using the word "we," which the heroine notes is "a technique commonly used by criminals, con artists, serial killers called 'forced pairing,'" according to the complaint.

"The final chapters in the book reveal that the experiments undertaken by the lead characters in the book have all been part of an elaborate con, engineered by 'Brendan Cody.' The 'Brendan Cody' character continues his deception despite the fact that it endangers the lives of everyone around him, including his young students, and, in fact, Brendan Cody's co-conspirator dies."

Cody seeks punitive damages for privacy invasion, defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He is represented by Larry Zerner.

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