Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Psycho House, by Robert Bloch

(pb; 1990: third book in the Psycho trilogy)

From the back cover:

"The new Bates Motel is a tourist attraction, a recreation of the murder site, and the developers are already counting their profits. And there's a new exhibit, one nobody expected: the bloody corpse of a teenage girl crumpled in the front hall, stabbed to death. Among the avalanche of press and publicity is reporter Amelia Haines, true crime writer. She's studying the original Psycho killings and to Amy the new murders are a golden opportunity -- if she can be part of the investigation, perhaps track down the killer herself, then her fame, and fortune, will be assured.

"But catching the madman won't be easy. . . the town is full of suspects, and Amy's best informants keep turning up murdered. If she isn't careful, Amelia Haines may be the next permanent guest at the Bates Motel. . ."

Review:

This is best read as a Psycho side-novel. To read Psycho House as a direct sequel to that classic work is to court disappointment.

In this third book, Bloch is more interested in exploring the social and media-related effects of the Bates Legacy, as evidenced in the town of Fairvale, where the original Bates murders took place.

Bloch's shift to heavy social commentary isn't surprising. Briefly notable in Psycho, Bloch's penchance for that sort of thing makes up a large portion of Psycho II (e.g., Bloch's Los Angeles jabs).

Bearing that commentary in mind, Psycho House works as a thoughtful, if killer-obvious, thriller.

Bloch's sparse writing, black wit, cliffhanger chapters and constant twists, coupled with the aforementioned social commentary (perfectly crystallized in Psycho House's last line) makes this a worthwhile, notable pulp novel.

Check it out.

Psycho III, unrelated to the not-yet-penned Psycho House, first illuminated theater screens on July 2, 1986.

Anthony Perkins not only reprised his role of Norman Bates, he directed the film as well, from a script by Charles Edward Pogue.

Diana Scarwid played Maureen Coyle. Jeff Fahey played Duane Duke. Roberta Maxwell played Tracy Venable. Hugh Gillin played Sheriff John Hunt. Lee Garlington played Myrna. Robert Alan Browne played Ralph Statler.

An uncredited Virginia Gregg, for a third time, performed the voice-role of Norma Bates, Norman's mother.

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