Psycho (Psycho #1) by Robert Bloch
Thoughts Before Reading:
So I am a huge fan of Alfred Hitchcock and one of my favorite films is Psycho (1960).
I could go on and on about it, but my sister blog, janeaustenrunsmylife.wordpress.com, already reviewed it.
So as I had become obsessed with Psycho, when I spotted the book Psycho II at a book sale I bought it.
I had never read Psycho, but if the movie was that fantastic, then I thought the book must be and the sequel.
I did not like the sequel. To me it was not a good book at all. And ten years later I decided it was time to try and actually read the first novel that the film is based on. Now this won’t be a comparison, as that is a job for my sister blog fromprinttoscreen.wordpress.com.
So here we are with Psycho.
The book was written in 1959 and is based on the Ed Gein serial killer (although Bloch claims to have written it without knowing anything about the case). The point of the novel was that an insane serial killer could live next door, and be overlooked even in a small-town.
So the book starts off with Norman Bates, a 40-year old man who lives with his mother.
Their property is massive and includes a huge farmhouse for the two of them, and then a motel lower down the hill.
Norman has an unhappy life with his mother, being the one to take care of her, while she is sick, abusive, and not fun to be around. The only bright spot for Norman is his books, through them he is able to escape his everyday existence.
So Norman is having a regular day, when he hears a sound that means someone is there to check in.
We then switch to Mary Crane (Marion in the film). Mary Crane has not lived the life she wished for. She was planning to go to college but canceled that when her father died in a car accident and she decided to help at home. Her boyfriend left her when he was sent by the army to Hawaii, where he met another girl. Then her mom became sick and Mary paid for Lila’s, her sister, education. She works at Lowery’s real estate office as a secretary but that is not what she wants. She wants to be married with children.
After her mother’s death and the sale of the house, they had some extra money and Lilia convinced Mary to go on a cruise. There she met Sam Loomis, a divorced hardware store owner who inherited his father’s business and his debt. The two fell in love, but Sam doesn’t want to be married now. He wants to wait a few years until the fiances are better. Mary doesn’t like it, but decides to wait.
When a buyer walked in and bought his daughter her dream house for $40,000 in cash; Mary just snapped and stole it instead of depositing it like she was supposed to.
She travels to Sam, but decides to stop for the night instead of coming right over. Her stop? The Bates Motel.
Norman seems sweet and tells Mary that he will make them a snack. They do and talk about their issues.
Now here is what I thought was slightly weird. Norman in the film was adorable, kind-hearted looking, and like a cute little boy. I could see talking to him as he seemed safe, and in need of a friend. In this he is a bit creepy. 40-year old man with his mom, I don’t think so.
Mary decides that her plan is a horrible one and is planning to return to Fort Worth, TX. Before she leaves, she decides to take a shower, to wash off her sins.
While in the shower she is attacked and killed.
Norman has been drinking, and is depressed at their conversation as he knows that Mary is right. His life is hard and unpleasant and he should do something about it. He also has a thing for Marion and wants to be with her.
Norman discovers Mary’s dead body and figures that his mother is the one behind the attack. He then cleans up the mess, tossing everything in Mary’s car; and all that into the swamp.
Sam is writing a letter to Mary, when Lila shows up on his doorstep! She comes to him looking for Mary, relating what happened and how Mary is missing. She is followed by Lowery’s private investigator Arbogast.
Hearing this news about Mary, Sam starts having second thoughts about the marriage wondering how he fell for such a woman. And does he know her as well as he thought he did?
Arbogast traces the steps of where Mary could have gone and discovers the forgotten drive that leads to the Bates Motel.
He questions Norman and asks to talk to his mother. He lets Sam and Lila know, asking them to wait for his next call. Norman reluctantly agrees to Arbogast meeting the mother,but when Norman’s mother meets Arbogast she slices his throat. Another body for the swamp.
Norman knows more will be coming, and against his nother’s wishes, he hides her in the fruit cellar.
Sam and Lila have been waiting for Arbogast but no call comes. Lila becomes worried and impatient and the two go to the Sheriff to ask for his help. There they find out that Norman’s mother is dead and buried.
If she is dead then who is in the house?
The Sheriff complies with their request and heads out to question Norman. When he returns he lets the two know that Arbogast isn’t there, the mother isn’t there, and Mary isn’t there. he believes that Arbogast took off for Chicago and just forgot to call.
Lilia doesn’t believe in that and tells Sam she is heading out to the motel.
Lila and Sam pretend to be a couple traveling, but Norman knows something is up; especially with Lila looking so much like Mary.
The Sam and Lila split up and start investigating. Mary heads to the house while Sam decides to distract Norman. It works for a while but Norman knocks Sam out and heads to the house after Lila.
Sam wakes up when the Sheriff finds him. He received a call about Arbogast that made him suspicious and he came out here to look for Sam and Lila. They both hear Lila screaming and head up to the house.
Thoughts After Reading:
I didn’t like it.
Well first of all, I didn’t like Sam. He was much better in the film. Book Sam doesn’t defend her or think about helping her; but wonder if he was just taken in by a cold stone criminal. To me, I don’t think he really loves her as he continues to talk himself out of the relationship.
Marion isn’t as endearing as all she wants is to find a handsome, rich man to marry and improver her life. She meets Sam, who later she is upset to discover is not wealthy but won this cruise, and just as on hold as she. She wants to marry anyhow, but Sam refuses and asks her to wait.Mary seemed fueled by money rather than her love in trying to catch a husband and escape out of her life.
Norman wasn’t as good as in the film. Book Norman is a 40 year old man who lives with his mother. He has been controlled by her (and abused in every way). He is overweight, impotent, intellectual on his own (but falls apart in front of mother or others), passive, and dreams of a better life (living the lives of the books he reads.) Even though he is an adult he still acts like a child, being controlled and dictated by his Mother.
To me I thought Norman in the book was good, but to be honest if I stayed at a hotel with this guy I wouldn’t spend time having sandwiches with him. I don’t know of I would even want to rent a room from him as he just sets off my creepo meter. The way he acts and talks I would keep my distance.
While the book was good it can not compare to the visuals of the film. I mean the way it was shot, the actor’s performances, they just brought the text to life in an astounding way. It was just amazing, all the right actors and director at just the right time. There is a reason why this movie became so iconic and why directors, writers, and actors are constantly trying to copy it.
For more on Psycho, go to The Girl in Alfred Hitchcock’s Shower
For more serial killers, go to Dying for a Date
For more private investigators, go to The Red Headed League