Review: 'Psycho: Sanitarium' by Chet Williamson

SanitariumPsycho: Sanitarium by Chet Williamson
Thomas Dunne Books (April 2016)
288 pages; $19.73 hardcover; $11.99 e-book
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington

Norman Bates has been institutionalized with the deaths of four people on his hands, four murders that we know about.

If you’ve never read Robert Bloch’s 1959 novel Psycho, not to worry, Chet Williamson provides an excellent synopsis to get the reader up to speed on the events which precede Psycho: Sanitarium. Personally, I went back and read the original work so it was fresh in my mind as I read this new volume. I’m glad I did as this gave me a feel for the writing in both books. If I didn’t know better, I could easily see how the two could have been written by the same author.

Psycho Sanitarium takes place at a time when Fuller Brush men still fooled around with other men’s wives. It tells the chilling tale of Norman Bates’ struggle to keep his mother from taking over his mind and, just when it looks like she’s gone, a shocker, a game changer. From here, the tale goes in delightfully new directions. To say anything more would reveal too much and I certainly don’t want to spoil any of the multiple surprises.

Psycho: Sanitarium succeeds on many levels. The depiction of life in the asylum rings true, with patients running the gamut from calm to violent, and a professional staff made up of both caring individuals and a few that should be committed themselves. The tone and pacing of the story matches up well with Robert Bloch’s original work. All of the characters are well developed, and the story features a number of delicious twists, all within the realm of possibility.

Published by St. Martin’s press, Robert Bloch’s Psycho: Sanitarium is available in hardcover, e-book, and audible formats.

I give this new book my highest recommendation.

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