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The Girl in Alfred Hitchcock's Shower

2.51  ·  Rating details ·  263 ratings  ·  76 reviews
In 1988, Marli Renfro - Janet Leigh's body double in 'Psycho' - was raped and murdered by a serial killer with a fetish for the classic Hitchcock shocker. But as Robert Graysmith investigated Marli's story, a nagging doubt entered his mind. What if Marli was still alive?
Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 1st 2010 by Titan Publishing Company (first published February 2nd 2010)
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A bit of bait-and-switch with this one. The book cover, and blurb, lead you to believe that the girl who was the nude body double in Psycho was murdered by a real-life 'Norman Bates'. Not so. The author tries to mesh together a biography of Marli Renfro (the nude actress), the making of Psycho, and the serial killer cases of Kenneth Dean Hunt, and Henry Adolph Busch Jr. Unfortunately, it doesn't hang together as well as the author probably hoped it would. He'd had an obsession with Marli for a l ...more
May 07, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-in-2010
Spoilers follow.

Talk about a pointless book with a completely deceptive cover--this is it. The cover makes it seem like it is about the murder of the body double for Janet Leigh in Alfred Hitchcock's PSYCHO by a Los Angeles serial killer. So, it follows the woman's career as a pin-up model/nudist in exhaustive, stretch out the story as much as possible to make it seem longer--this means repeating moments over and over and it follows the serial killer in similar fashion. Then the guy is caught A
Jun 24, 2011 rated it did not like it
Robert Graysmith does not understand his subject, a woman with whom he's admittedly been "obsessed" for decades. Let me list the ways:

1. He states Marli Renfro is modest. -->
On nude shoots, she always does long, limbering exercises in the nude in front of cast and crew. She is a nudist who enjoys being watched.

2. He states Renfro is in no way pretentious or vain. -->
On the Psycho shoot, she once got dressed in some of her most expensive clothing and lingered for thirty minutes in the show
Belinda Palamara
The Author's attempt to weave together several different storylines does not really work.

This book is great for readers who love descriptions of nipples.
Kristen Hale
Jan 13, 2013 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 28, 2011 rated it liked it
I feel like the author got a book deal for this subject and then panicked when he realized there basically was no story. So he put together two parallel stories (which end up having nothing to do with each other) and filled in the blanks with a bunch of interesting Hollywood tidbits. And then created a deceiving cover and synopsis to lure readers in. I gave it three stars instead of one because I'm a film nerd who enjoyed the Hitchcock trivia. But this book basically only made me want to go out ...more
Jul 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
The historical events written about in this book were quite accurate - you can tell the author took time to research. However, I felt the author could have described women's bodies a little less and focused more on the actual story of the serial killer. There were a lot of part that the author could have removed completely and it wouldn't have taken away from the story itself.
Jan 01, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011, non-fiction
Not what I was expecting at all. The cover copy and inside flap portray the book as a true crime story; instead it's a mish-mosh of unrelated stories and pages of endless anecdotes that have little or nothing to do with Psycho or murder.
Lady ♥ Belleza
In 1988, Marli Renfro - Janet Leigh's body double in 'Psycho' - was raped and murdered by a serial killer with a fetish for the classic Hitchcock shocker. But as Robert Graysmith investigated Marli's story, a nagging doubt entered his mind. What if Marli was still alive?

If you ever saw 'Psycho' you will remember the shower scene. If you never saw it, you likely have heard of it. Robert Graysmith refers to it as 'the most harrowing forty-five seconds of footage in cinema history'. He may be right
Jun 07, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 08, 2012 rated it it was ok
A big disappointment. The only real mystery is why the author is trying so desperately hard to create one where none exists. He basically tries to splice together two stories that are only vaguely related to create a larger story full of mystery and intrigue... and the result is less than satisfying.

Another thing that didn't really work for me was the way the author inserted himself in the story. Some authors can really make this kind of thing work to expound on the basic story and make it come
Jul 05, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Avoid at all costs....there really is no story here. Others then some tidbits about the short shower scene in Psycho and Janet Leigh's double. Move on ladies & gentlemen, nothing to see here.
Jul 25, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Well this was really not quite what I was expecting. Based on the cover and flap, I assumed that Marli Renfro, the body double for Janet Leigh in Psycho, had been murdered by a murderer similar to the Norman Bates character. This book tells the story of Renfro who it turns out was not murdered at all. It goes into many pages and chapters describing the infamous shower scene and how Renfro was naked on the set the whole time. The book goes on to describe Renfro's life before and after Psycho incl ...more
Oct 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
In this book, the author takes more time detailing various women’s nipples than he does describing true crime. It’s a shame, too, because the subject matter is fascinating; it’s just put together in a drawn-out and confusing manner.
Shae McDaniel
Jan 21, 2018 rated it did not like it
See reading notes for why I hate this with the burning passion of a thousand suns.
Sep 14, 2010 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 23, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This could have been a great biography of Marli Renfro-The body in the shower in Psycho; unfortunately it turned into a bit of a convoluted meandering look at Los Angeles and the deserts of Nevada in 1960 with bio thrown in. Marlins story is fascinating one: a Playboy covergirl and Bunny; her stint in Psycho, a nudist, an avid fisherman (fisher person?), intelligence and natural curiosity to boot. Yet instead of focusing on her, we took side trips through Caryl Chessman's execution as a segue to ...more
Lee Anne
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Doug Beatty
Feb 12, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime
I just finished this one, and although it was interesting, I think it was marketed the wrong way.

If you read the dust jacket, it seems like you are going to get a true crime novel, involving the girl who was the body double in the movie Psycho, standing in for Janet Leigh in the nude shower scene. And you do get a bit of a true crime story in the tale of Sonny Busch and his mother who live close to the Psycho film set, and Psycho does set Sonny off on a bit of a killing spree but he never really
Suspense Magazine
Apr 24, 2010 rated it did not like it
New York Times bestselling author, Robert Graysmith, best known for his books on the Zodiac killer and Jack the Ripper, takes on the mystery of Janet Leigh's body double from Psycho. In 1960, Marli Renfro appeared as the body double in the famous shower scene. It wasn't until 1988 that she received her most notoriety when she was found to be brutally raped and murdered by a serial killer. But was she really? Graysmith, who has been obsessed with Renfro for the past forty years, attempts to portr ...more
Jan 29, 2015 rated it liked it
Robert Graysmith's books on the Black Dahlia case gave me hope that this book would be as riveting, but not so. His descriptions of the late 1950's and early 1960's read like a B movie script, lots of hyperbole but the true, living sense of the period never arose from the morass of words.

It's really too bad, the situation itself has so much possibility and the characters have the potential to be fascinating, but I think the author was too close to this case and so had lost the ability to edit. A
Karen Sweeney
Dec 21, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: biography, true-crime
This book could have been a great true crime thriller and an interesting insider account of the making of Psycho. Sadly, it was neither. The subject is someone who had marginal encounters in the film industry and the "men's magazine" industry. Her stories are boring and she has nothing important to say about her life. The author was/is clearly infatuated with her but whatever her charms may be, they do no translate to the page. The true crime story was the more compelling but was given short shr ...more
Sep 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
The dust jacket lead me to believe that it was about the murder of the woman who was Janet Leigh's body double for the movie Psycho. But no... This book intertwined a long drawn out biography of Marli Renfro, a nudist and the object of the author's obsession, with the story of Sonny Busch a loner mother-obsessed serial killer. Except for the fact that Marli and Sonny both appear in this book there is no connection between the two. This book is not a good example of Graysmith's work. Very disappo ...more
Aita Gilley
Jun 15, 2013 rated it did not like it
What a mess! This book could have been 3 or even 4 different Vanity Fair articles versus a rambling mess. As a Hitchcock fan and a crime fiction fan, I was totally disappointed by this book. It should have just been a novella (small but concise). The whole mob connection did not make sense. The only thing that I happened to enjoy was all the little bits of random trivia ( i.e. Michael Douglas was on set as prodution assistant & F.F.C. did nudie cuties & all the Hefner stuff.) Thank God I ...more
Apr 10, 2012 rated it did not like it
Ugh, what an irritating book. Not poorly written, but completely misleading! It's a biography of Marli Renfro, which is fine, except that it has basically nothing to do with murder whatsoever. There's a "parallel" story about some guy who was seemingly inspired by Psycho to murder, and at the very end of the book these stories align for 1 paragraph.
A vaguely interesting biography, but I kept reading thinking "what the hell is the point?"
Jul 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Robert Graysmith writes an intriguing true life story that centers around the movie Psycho, especially Marli Renfro, the body double for Janet Leigh inPsycho, Sonny Busch, the killer of elderly women in California in the 1960's and the changing morality of the country at that time including the rise of Playboy, the sex industry and gambling. This was hard to put down and my only complaint was that at times he was a bit wordy but it was still worth reading.
Mar 23, 2011 rated it liked it
Very disappointing. The description on the book jacket led me to believe the outcome would be very different. He has two distinct stories that he is attempting to tell and I kept reading, waiting for the connection, but never did understand what the two had to do with one another, aside from a lose connection to the film "Psycho." I DID learn a lot of interesting things about the making of the movie.
Jun 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
This is a very reluctant two stars. The subject matter is fascinating and there are all kinds of Psycho inside tidbits but the parallel stories are frenetic and all over the place. Hitchcock fans need to read it. No doubt. But take your Dramamine first because this slow herky jerky ride could make you seasick.
Sep 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
This was nowhere near as good as I thought it was going to be. Much of the time was spent describing the history and making of "nudie" films, and the shape of womens breasts and nipples. The supposed twist was a total let-down, in the final 5 pages or so.
Jan 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was not only a way-above-average true crime story; it was also a delicious series of peeks into the making of PSYCHO and an intriguing look into the author's own hang-up on the busty redhead he saw, 40 years ago, on the cover of "Playboy," and never forgot.
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Robert Graysmith was born in Pensacola, Florida as Robert Gray Smith. He changed his name to Graysmith in 1976.

Graysmith is a true-crime author of the books Zodiac; Zodiac Unmasked: The Identity of America's Most Elusive Serial Killer; Unabomber: A Desire to Kill; The Sleeping Lady: The Trailside Murders Above the Golden Gate; The Murder of Bob Crane: Who Killed the Star of Hogan's Heroes; The Bel