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May 25 , 2009

High Priest of California


From the 50’s to the 60’s, if you were an adult man, you could go to the back of any drugstore and for a quarter or two pick up a paperback “sleazy.” With their garish covers of half-naked women and two-fisted men and amoral, violent tales of sexual conquest and conflict, these paperbacks normally ended up jammed under the mattress where decent people wouldn’t see them.

Charles Willeford wrote a number of sleazies and High Priest of California tops them all. Meet Russell Haxby, used-car salesman, sexual predator, and sociopath, an unpleasant little man in an unpleasant little tale that has no redeeming qualities whatsoever except to shock the reader with its brutal and violent immorality and misogyny.

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