“The legendary Norman Bates returns…
The original Psycho novel by Robert Bloch was published in 1959 and became an instant hit, leading to the classic Alfred Hitchcock film a year later. Norman Bates’s terrifying story has been seared in the public consciousness ever since.
It took Bloch 23 years to write another Psycho novel, revealing that Norman had been in a mental institution the entire time. But what happened in that asylum during those two decades?
Until now, no one has known. It’s 1960. Norman Bates is in the State Hospital for the Criminally Insane and it’s up to Dr. Felix Reed to bring him out of his catatonic state. Dr. Reed must face both twisted patients and colleagues who think of the institution as a prison rather than a place of healing. And the greatest obstacle is the building itself, once a private sanitarium, rumoured to be haunted.
A delicate peace is disturbed by the arrival of Robert Newman, Norman’s twin brother, taken away at birth after a doctor pronounced him brain damaged. As Robert and Norman grow to know each other, Norman senses a darkness in Robert, perhaps even deeper than that which has lurked in Norman himself.
Psycho: Sanitarium is an intense psychological thriller of murder and deranged madness, and marks the first new appearance of Norman Bates as a main character in over 30 years.”
I saw this book and I HAD to read it. Just so you know, I’ve never seen Alfred Hitchcock’s version of Psycho and I’ve only read the original Psycho by Robert Bloch. Turns out there’s a second Psycho book too, I had no idea! Anyway, enough about the past and let’s move to this new publication due for release on 12th April 2016.
This is Psycho 1.5 and covers the years of Norman’s incarceration in the State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. I would normally give a short synopsis at this point but I’m not going to do that this time around as the blurb at the top pretty much tells you everything you need to know. If I were to say any more it would surely give something away and I would much rather you read the book.
Whilst reading I felt a strange unnatural sense of pity for Norman Bates. Here is one of the most iconic fictional serial killers of our time and I felt sorry for him! He appears throughout the book as helpless and in need of some compassion. Mother is still very much present but he’s working so hard to shut her away. Being such a strong dominant personality she was never going to fade away without a fight.
I’ve read a couple of reviews recently where the reviewers said they could not understand why Norman Bates was used as the main character when any old well-known fictional killer would have done. I completely disagree with this statement. It could only have been Norman, there was no other choice. It just wouldn’t of worked at all otherwise.
The setting is creepy, it feels like it’s set in the early 1960’s and the other characters are all individuals with their own failings. There is a twist which I didn’t see coming until I was about three quarters of the way through the book and it hit me like a bolt of lightening!
I recently reviewed a modern northern Sherlock Holmes short story collection and said how hard it must be to take an iconic character and make them your own as a writer. Chet Williamson has done this in abundance and I hope that, had he been alive today, Robert Bloch would be pleased with the result.
I heartily recommend this book but advise that you know the original Psycho story before reading otherwise it just won’t have the same impact or make as much sense.
Four and a half out of five stars.
Many thanks to Canelo Digital Publishing, Chet Williamson and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of Psycho: Sanitarium in exchange for an honest review.