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.

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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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So Many Books to Review, So Little Time

So as I am sure you all know, it is easy to read a book. I can do it in no time at all.

But trying to squeeze in time to write a review? That is difficult. It never seems as if there is any time at all.

No time!

I was cleaning my room, and I had to move my stacks of to-review books and decided to show you all how much I have to add.

Yes that is eight stacks, eight stacks of books.

Just Because You’re Paranoid, Doesn’t Mean a Demon’s Not After You: Storm Front

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Storm Front (The Dresden Files #1) by Jim Butcher

So I was first introduced to this series by my friend. She was an avid reader, and you know how when you have something you like, you try to get all of your friends into it.

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Anyways, we had gone on a road trip and were on our way back to our apartment, but were so tired. Halfway, we realized we wouldn’t make it unless we had something to boost us. She decided now was the perfect time to introduce me to the book series. We listened to 1/3-1/2 of the book, and by then it was too late. I was hooked and had to head to library to check out a copy to read now.

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The Review:

So Harry Dresden is a wizard.

What?

Yes, you heard correctly. He is a wizard in modern day Chicago, and has his own P.I. office, HARRY DRESDEN-WIZARD. Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. NO Love Potions, Endless Purses, Parties, or Other Entertainment.

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Things have been really slow for Harry these past few months. The last thing he’s done was investigate a country singer’s “haunted house”. It turned out to be nothing but the singer’s drug addiction, but when Harry told him that, he fired him and then hired some shyster who did an “exorcism”. It seems some people just don’t want the truth.

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This day Harry was planning on going through a new box of books, as there was nothing else to do, when he gets a call.

A woman, Monica, is looking for her husband. He asks her to check with the police or a regular private investigator, but she refuses saying she needs a wizard’s help. They make an appointment, an hour later.

Immediately the phone rings again, and it’s Lt. Karrin Murphy from the Chicago Police Department (CPD). She’s the director of Special Investigations, set to investigate anything unusual.

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Vampire attacks, troll marauding, and faery abductions of children, etc.

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Murphy’s found some bodies and wants Harry there now. Harry tells her she has an appointment, but Murphy tells him he needs to come her NOW, and to not eat lunch. It’s ugly.

Uh-oh

Uh-oh

Harry leaves  note and heads on his way.

Murphy is short and petite but tough as nails. She has to be in order to succeed as a female cop.

She and Harry get along but have their differences. Murphy is a modern women, while much of Harry’s morals, values, and manners are, in her view, dated. He likes to open doors for women, pick up the check, protect them; etc. Murphy also doesn’t like his look of a leather duster, she thinks is also dated. However, she believes what he says is the truth and not crazy, and is one of the few willing to look into his eyes and do a Soul Gaze.

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Soul Gaze is when you look into a wizard’s eyes directly, and when you do so you see a window into their soul. It doesn’t relay specific information (you can’t use it to interrogate someone), but it does give one a vague impression on whether they’re trustworthy or not, or if they’ve been psychically harmed, etc. A lot of people don’t like it, so not many dare meet his eyes.

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They go into the suite, where they meet up with Detective Carmichael, Murphy’s partner, and the most unbelieving soul you will ever meet.

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The two people had obviously met for sex, and they find them in the bed. The creepy part? Their chests have exploded, as if they had a bomb in their chest.

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Harry feels like throwing up, but tries to stay strong. The only way to do something like this is to use magic to wreak harm, in violation of the First Law, established by the White Council, the people who police Wizards.

The only way to accomplish such a feat is through Thaumaturgy. Thaumaturgy is when you make something happen on a small scale, and give it enough energy to happen on a large scale; but to do something like that you would need something that connected to the victims like hair, fingernails, or blood.

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To do this you need really strong emotions, revenge most likely. She or He choose the moment when the two would be having sex, as this extremely angered her or him, making the killer most likely a spouse or ex-lover.

suspicious Hmm

It turns out the girl is Jennifer Stanton, a prostitute who at the Velvet Room for Bianca. Bianca is a Vampiress. Not good. And the man? Tommy Tomm, Gangster “Gentleman” Johnny Marcone. Ouch. Not good and a WIDE suspect pool.

Uh-oh

Uh-oh

Murphy wants Harry to investigate how this could have happened, but Harry really doesn’t want to. You see Murphy doesn’t know everything about Harry. Harry has a dark past and the Doom of Damocles hanging over his head. If he is found guilty of violating one of the Seven Laws of Magic, the Doom would drop. If he started putting together a murder spell, that’s all that’s needed for those who dislike him to push for the Doom to start.

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Murphy yells at him, and it makes him feel bad so he agrees. He just hopes that the Council will understand.

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Harry runs back to the office for his appointment, when he is approached by two giant men who force him into the limo. In the back he sees a handsome, unassuming man, in casual clothes. Who are you? Johnny Marcone.

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“Gentleman” Johnny Marcone is a blessing and a curse to the Chicago area. On one hand he deals in everything from drugs, to robbers, etc. On the other hand, with him in charge, everything is controlled. He runs his organization tiptop, and if anybody new comes on the scene, they get taken out.

Marcone wants Harry to not investigate the case. He’s willing to pay him for two weeks, $16800, to take a vacation. It intrigues Harry, but he is even more curious about why he doesn’t want Harry looking into the deaths.

suspicious Hmm

He refuses.

Marcone stares Harry right in the face, never flinching, extremely scary. But Harry stays firm, and Marcone warns Harry not to upset him. He drops Harry off at his office, and Harry feels a bit grim about everything, but at least he’s on time for Monica.

Monica is very uneasy and unsure about being here. Her husband, Victor Sells, has been missing for three days, and she came to Harry because she thinks that he might be able to help as her husband was very into magic.

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After careful waiting, Monica tells Harry a few clues. They have a lake house he could check out and she’s willing to pay the money. So they strike a deal and she heads on her way.

Harry checks his mail and discovers a dried out scorpion. Scorpions are very powerful symbols and could be dangerous. It creeps Harry out, but he thinks he’s overreacting and dumps it in his desk.

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Harry decides to reward his good fortune of two jobs, and head down to McAnally’s Pub, an old fashioned restaurant. Mac is Harry’s best friend and seemingly the only one he can talk to. Today the hot news is the Third Eye drug ravaging the city. The Third Eye is a powerful drug that gives you temporary abilities, and is extremely addictive. People will do anything in order to get it. It is really hurting the city.

Susan Rodriguez comes into the pub to talk to Harry. She is a journalist for the Arcane, a tabloid, and is always trying to get something out of Harry. She is very sexy and uses her appeal to get things out of others. So far it hasn’t worked on Harry, his past has kept him from getting close to anyone, but it’s been a long time and a date with Susan sounds great.

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That night Harry heads over to the lake house with ingredients. Time to do some spell casting.

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Harry sets a trap to catch a faery so that he can question him. When Toot arrives he’s quite angry with Harry, but after some bargaining, Harry gets him calmed down.

Toot tells Harry that pizza arrived the other night and the humans were “sporting”. “Sporting” to fairies means sex. And a lot of it, there must have been an orgy or something.

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Harry is thinking about what it all means, when his worst nightmare shows up. Morgan, a member of the White Council, who wants Harry dead. He tries to get at Harry, saying that he was the one who killed the two people. Sadly, Morgan won’t stop until he has proof that Harry killed them.

Not-Good

Harry is too keyed up after talking with Morgan, and heads down in his basement to work. There also lives his cat Mister, and Bob, an extremely old wizard trapped in a skull, the wizard computer. Harry needs Bob’s help to make an escape potion, but Bob won’t assist unless they do something fun, like make a love potion.

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The next night Harry goes to see Bianca. To prepare himself, he wears a silver pentacle on a silver chain and a folded white cloth.

When he gets there, the guards remove some of Harry’s items, his cane and knife. But they stupidly let him pass with the cloth and pentacle.

Harry asks Biamca about Jennifer and she freaks out trying to kill him. Luckily he has that cloth, which contains a sunlight potion, releasing it on her. From there the beautiful woman is gone, and this ugly winged creature remains.

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Harry also uses the pentacle to protect himself, leaving the two at a draw. Bianca doesn’t trust him and he doesn’t trust her. He is trying to find Jennifer’s killer, but Bianca thinks he is the real murderer.

Eventually, Harry convinces Bianca to sit and talk. Bianca liked Tommy Tomm, he treated the girls nice. He sent Jennifer that night, but has no idea who would want them dead. She sends him to go after Linda Randall, old friend of Jennifer.

HMMM

Harry has to leave quickly, as he is bleeding and hungering Bianca. He calls Linda, but she won’t speak to him. So he goes to find her.

Linda works as a driver now, but in the past was a prostitute too, and she is very sexual in everything. Last time she spoke to Jennifer was on her birthday, she wanted to get with Tommy and her, but Linda had to work.

Harry decides that gleaning zero leads from there, it is best to look up the pizza place. He finds out that there was more than one person there, an orgy, and that there was another guy taking pictures.

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That night Harry gets attacked by a man with a bat, later a man high on the Third Eye also threatens him, that his master will kill him. While Harry isn’t sure he is closer to the truth, it appears he is right on their tale.

Things get really heated, when in the middle of his date with Susan, a demon appears, and the two have to fight it off.

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Will Harry solve the crime? Or will he be taken down; either by the White Council or this mysterious opponent. You have to read to find out.

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Thoughts After Reading:

I LOVED THIS BOOK!!!!!!

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It was extremely well written and I couldn’t put it down.

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Check it our for yourself!

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For more supernatural mysteries, go to The Barter

For more books featuring a private investigator, go to One for the Money

For more fantasy-mysteries, go to The Emperor’s Edge