1959-60 was Marli Renfro’s year, the beautiful redhead was cast as Janet Leigh’s nude body double for the movie Psycho, and also graced the cover of numerous men’s magazines, including the September 1960 issue of Playboy, she danced in the chorus at Las Vegas casinos, was one of the first Playboy bunnies, and was even featured in a couple of “nudie” or “sexploitation” films when movie censors lifted the ban on nudity. One of her many admirers was then college student Robert Graysmith who kept a scrapbook of her photos and her Playboy cover tacked on his wall for inspiration. Then, just as suddenly, she disappeared. Years later it was reported that life had imitated art and she had been murdered. And the author, inspired by the film noir classic, “Laura” in which a detective falls in love with the portrait of a supposedly dead one, decided to someday write a book about the beautiful redhead.
This is one of those books that has the feel of an interesting magazine article crammed and stuffed and padded with detail in order to make a nearly 300 page book. That’s not to say it isn’t interesting, and if you want a combination history of Marli Renfro, her life and misreported death, the making of Psycho, Las Vegas casinos, the Playboy franchise, nudie movies, and Francis Ford Coppola’s foray into them as a film student, as well as the stories of a few serial killers thrown in—Ed Gein, Sonny Busch, and oh yes, lest we forget, Kenneth Dean Hunt who actually did murder Myra Davis who was Janet Leigh’s fully clothed stand-in for Psycho—you’re all set, this is the book for you. But if you’re expecting something more focused and to the point chances are, depending on your temperament, you might end up throwing this book at the wall.