Psycho: Sanitarium – Chet Williamson
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?
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. 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.
My thanks to Hayley at EDPR for my review copy
There are few characters more that can be considered as iconic as Robert Bloch’s Norman Bates. Psycho, with some assistance of Alfred Hitchcock, is a story known by millions, the disturbed world of Norman Bates and his controlling mother has thrilled and entertained many generations since the original novel released in 1959.
Now, all these years later, Chet Williamson is bringing readers back into the company of Norman – in the State Hospital for Criminally Insane – where Norman is in a catatonic state and under the treatment of Doctor Reed. The setting is perfect and Williamson’s depiction of Bates is (for me) absolutely on the money.
We get to follow Norman’s treatment under the nurturing care of Doctor Reed. He is living in relative seclusion within the Sanitarium, his treatment is slow and Norman is not mixing with the other residents. The head of the Hospital is keen to treat Norman with some of the more traditional measures – force feeding if he does not eat, electro-shock therapy if he does not come out his catatonic state and start talking. As you can probably imagine, not all the staff in the hospital are pleasant individuals and there are some who enjoy the more ‘forceful’ treatments which take place.
While the reader gets a feel for how the Sanitarium operates, Norman is making some small steps towards recovery. The notoriety of his crimes made the newspapers and his elder twin (long thought dead after being born with a seriously debilitating condition) has turned up at the hospital and wants to meet with Norman. The brothers slowly bond and Norman feels comfortable sharing some of his concerns with his elder sibling – his world is rather small though so Norman can only speak of staff or residents that have upset him or fears he has about his treatment.
However, after Norman shares his worries with his brother (Robert) the worries seem to go away. Staff members are vanishing from the hospital and cannot be traced. The reader gets a peek at why these people are vanishing but there is a nice dose of mystery into how they are making it happen. Norman becomes increasingly concerned that his brother may know something about why people are vanishing from the hospital, but the increasing chaos within the hospital are making it hard for him to find someone to confide in. But there is always one person that is looking out for Norman, someone that listens to his worries, his fears and someone that will always look out for his best interests – as a Mother should…
I flew through Psycho: Sanitarium, the story is slick, the sanitarium creepy and the characters are really well defined – particularly Norman who just oozes suppressed danger, even when he is at his most vulnerable.
Psycho: Sanitarium is published by Canelo and is available in digital and hardback formats. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Psycho-Sanitarium-Authorised-Sequel-Robert-ebook/dp/B01D0KFWR2/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1463353262&sr=1-1&keywords=psycho+sanitarium