High Priest of California by Charles Willeford

Charles Willeford’s High Priest of California is not a book for everyone, maybe hardly anyone. The writing is crisp and the plot moves along page by page, but Willeford’s anti-hero Russell Haxby is a scoundrel, a scoundrel is the most despicable way. Set in San Francisco in 1951, Willeford’s first novel tells the story of Haxby’s sexual pursuit of Alyce Vitale.

The woman was good-looking but her personality was blah. Still, with a figure like she had there should certainly be something there. I might look in the next day, but then that was tomorrow and it would depend upon how I felt.

Most anti-heroes do despicable things, but they have some redeeming qualities. Willeford’s Haxby does not. For instance a typical anti-hero may rob a bank, but usually they only shoot at when shot at first. Yes, even Han Solo shot first, but he wasn’t looking for trouble, he was cornered and he had no way out. Haxby has none of this. He’s a successful used-car salesman and while not lying to womenm he is busy ripping customers off.

If you can bear with this creep Haxby, the writing is great, though the overall story is much to be despised. It seems as though Willeford has several books in sexual conquest genre (yeah, I didn’t know this either), instead I’ll probably focus on his Hoke Mosley series.

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