It was a dark and stormy night when Mary Crane glimpsed the unlit neon sign announcing the vacancy at the Bates motel. Exhausted, lost, and at the end of her rope, she was eager for a hot shower and a bed for the night. Her room was musty but clean and the plumbing worked. Norman Bates, the manager, seemed nice, if a little odd.
I wrapped up my “month” (it was more like six weeks) of horror reading with Robert Bloch’s Psycho. Full disclosure: I only saw Psycho the movie for the first time last winter. And I didn’t even realize, until a few weeks ago, that it was based on the book by Robert Bloch, which in turn was inspired by the extremely creepy Wisconsin murderer and grave robber Ed Gein.
The story begins with Mary, a young woman who takes refuge in a hotel one rainy night. She is on the run after stealing a large sum of money from her employer. Norman Bates, the owner of the hotel, invites her up to his house for a quick dinner, during which she comes to realize that Norman has a very strange sort of “mama’s boy” relationship with his mother. Disturbed by an outburst from Norman, Mary retreats to her hotel room, where she is later murdered while taking a shower. But this is only the beginning of the horror.
Chances are, if you like horror (or Hitchcock) movies at all, you’ve seen Psycho. But in case you haven’t, I won’t spoil it for you. What you need to know about the book is that Norman Bates is a very, very disturbed man. It was fascinating to get inside his mind–he is in turns confused, psychotic, and semi-lucid, so it’s difficult but fun to guess what exactly is going on. His relationship with his mother is extremely messed up and manipulative. And Norman himself can be very violent.
I definitely recommend this as a creepy (but not too scary) horror book. It’s a quick read packed with mystery, morbidity, murder and psychosis. I definitely enjoyed it more than I did the movie.