Psycho

Psycho

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).

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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.

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I had never read Psycho, but if the movie was that fantastic, then I thought the book must be and the sequel.

wrong

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.

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Plot Synopsis:

So the book starts off with Norman Bates, a 40-year old man who lives with his mother.

Yeah something’s not right with this situation.

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.

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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.

How she feels inside.

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.

I hate my life!

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?

What?

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.

Ugh

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

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The Hyde Park Murder

Happy 4th of July Everyone!

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Typically I post a recipe, but as I stumbled upon a book that not only takes place on the 4th of July but features a president, I thought I would post on this instead.

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The Hyde Park Murder (Eleanor Roosevelt Investigates #2) by Elliot Roosevelt

Neighbor Adriana van der Meer comes to Eleanor Roosevelt for help. She was engaged to Bob Hannah, but her parents no longer want her to see him. His father, Alfred Doolittle Hannah, has just been accused of a multi-million dollar stock swindle.

But before the case can go to court, Bob’s father dies by suicide.

Not only are the upcoming nuptials on hold, but Bob is convinced that not only did his father not participate in the scam, but that he did not die by suicide but:

Bob sets out to investigate, going undercover as a lowly employee in his father’s former company. He also gets assistance from a call girl, Miss Moira Lasky.

On the case!

Eleanor decides to assist, bringing in the Securities and Exchange Commissioner, Joseph P. Kennedy, Mayor Fiorella La Guardia, Supreme Justice Brandies, and congressman Sam Rayburn.

It turns out that what they stumbled on is more than just a con, but masking who is really behind it all; the growing German Nazi Party.

Seriously?

Will they be able to stop them before they take America’s money to fund their war?

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Thoughts After Reading:

It was okay.

I didn’t think it was as bad as the first one, but it was pretty boring and bland.

They go on and on about stock information I really did not care to know about.

 The only interesting character was Moira but she wasn’t in the book enough.

So pretty much:

For more Eleanor Investigates, go to Murder and the First Lady

For more 4th of July posts, go to Happy 4th of July Triple Berry Salad

For more holiday posts, go to Crazy Cantina Chili

For more books based on real people, go to The Alchemy of Murder

For more on mysteries with embezzlement, go to Murder Well Done

God Bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, My home sweet home.

Happy 4th of July!

Fatally Frosted

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Fatally Frosted (A Donut Shop Mystery #2)

This is the sequel to Glazed Murder, and finds Suzanne Hart once again investigating a murder.

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Suzanne has recovered from her previous discovery of a dead body, is currently dating Jake Bishop, North Carolina Police Investigator, and has recently accepted an offer to give demos on her donut making.

Yep, a charity is putting on a kitchen tour; showing the top kitchens in April Springs, with chefs giving demos in each one. Suzanne’s friend Marge has her kitchen in the show and graciously asked Suzanne to show off the beautiful and functional features. Suzanne leaped at the chance as it allowed her free marketing, and the high possibility of more customers to her little shop.

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The only downside? Peg Masterson.

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Yep, Peg is a mean, gossipy, snobby woman who hates Suzanne and always gives her a hard time.

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But Suzanne is determined to have the best demonstrations out of the whole tour. She arrives early to Marge’s, but unfortunately has a run-in with Peg.

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Peg’s complaining once again. Ugh. Well, Suzanne just tries to put that behind her and move on.

She gets ready to start, when someone finds a dead body. Peg Masterson

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Canceling the tour.

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To make matters worse, the death is a rat poisoned coated, lemon filled, donut.

One of Suzanne’s donuts.

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Crap

Suzanne is once again the main suspect, propelling her into investigating the case. But this time more is on the line than her freedom, it’s her reputation and business.

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Thoughts After Reading:

So at first I found a hard time getting into this novel. It seemed like something I read before.

Deja Vu

I can’t think of an exact book, but this seemed so familiar, so much like some other small-town mystery novels.

I also thought that it was quite redundant. I mean the last book she was the main suspect, it seemed a bit cheap to have her number one suspect again.

really?

BUT then, then the mystery got really good. Peg turned out to be playing everyone and skimming off the top of her charity events. Then Suzanne discovers there are many people who want to get rid of Peg, and it is going to be a lot of work to figure out which one actually did her in.

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In fact it was in true Agatha Christie fashion. I thought it was one character, but just like the great Dame, Beck had one great twist in her.

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I say five out of five stars! 🙂

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For more Donut Shop Mysteries, go to Glazed Murder