From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Muñoz, the author of two short story collections (The Faith Healer of Olive Avenue and Zigzagger), uses the second-person voice to draw the reader into his stellar first novel. In 1959, the Director (i.e., Alfred Hitchcock) arrives in Bakersfield, Calif., to film Psycho, along with the Actress (i.e., Janet Leigh), who's struggling to get a handle on the character she will portray. Providing counterpoint to the events surrounding the making of the iconic Hollywood film, including the search for a motel to serve as the exterior of the Bates Motel, is the story of locals Dan Watson and Teresa Garza, whose doomed love affair ends in murder. The author brilliantly presents the Actress's inner thoughts, while he handles the violence with a subtlety worthy of Hitchcock himself. The lyrical prose and sensitive portrayal of the crime's ripple effect in the small community elevate this far beyond the typical noir. 10-city author tour. (Mar.)
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Mu�oz (The Faith Healer of Olive Avenue, 2007) has hit upon a killer premise: the making of Psycho (with appearances by the �actress� and the �director�) set against the real-life murder of a young Latina singer in Bakersfield. The two stories come together in the beginning, when the actress and the director visit Bakersfield, scouting locations that could be used for the external shots of the Bates Motel. They find one, but the owner turns them down, miffed that the actress refused to acknowledge who she was earlier in the day, when she ate at the local diner. With that thin filament connecting the plots, Mu�oz expertly jumps from the making of the Hitchcock film�including, of course the shower scene, as experienced by the actress�to the sad story of the small-town murder and the lives of the locals who were affected by the crime. Mood connects the two stories, that sense of melancholy foreboding that lurked behind so many 1950s noir films, and Mu�oz expertly evokes the way quiet desperation can explode into life-altering violence. --Bill Ott