High Priest of California

Cover image for


Author: Charles Willeford (W. Franklin Sander)
Published: 1953
Language: English
Wordcount: 27,354 / 75 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 96
LoC Category: PZ
Downloads: 1,561
Added to site: 2009.08.21
mnybks.net#: 25064
Genre: Pulp

No one could resist his strange cult of lechery!

Show Excerpt

n sitting in that chair who reeked with sweat. And it was a male. Men have a certain smell to them, a strong sweaty smell that is noticed upon entering a YMCA, a barracks or a man's room. It doesn't bother a man to smell it and he soon gets used to it, but it was odd to find on a chair in a girl's apartment.

"Do you keep men in your apartment besides the animals?"

Alyce looked surprised.


"Yeah. Men."

"Why, no. Would you like some more coffee?" As she warmed mine up I heard a noise in the kitchen. Utensils shifted around. "That's Ruthie. We must have wakened her."

"You got the coffee pot out there?" It was a man's voice.

"Ruthie has a nice bass." I said it as casually as I could.

"That's just Stanley," Alyce said. "I have it, Stanley!" she called.

Stanley came into the room. He was in his fifties, if not more, with a thatch of gray tousled hair and a stubble of gray beard. An ancient multicolored bathrobe covered his body, but left exposed a


Average Rating of 2.8 from 5 reviews: ***

This is not crime or detective pulp, but rather a fictional study of exploitation and moral bankruptcy. An episode in the life of Russell Haxby, auto salesman. The con jobs he perpetrates in business pale in comparison to his personal schemes. The characters are strongly written and invoke feeling but the plot does not measure up.

Warren Stalley

After enjoying Wild Wives by the same author I was looking forward to this short novel. However the story doesn't seem to go anywhere. The writing style flows smoothly but I just couldn't see what the point of the story was.


I agree with Alan Loewen's review. The protagonist is a scumbag with an odd fascination on classical music and literature. Other than that, he has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. A slightly disturbing read. I enjoyed it.

C. Alan Loewen

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.

Amazingly, as tawdry as the story is, the author himself makes a far more fascinating study and the reader is encouraged to read the Wikipedia article on Charles Ray Willeford III (1919 –1988) for an insight into a man’s life far more fascinating than his own stories.

Craig Alan Loewen


A slow but interesting story line that leads to a disappointing end! Wish there was more!

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