Galen, California is a small coastal town mostly known for its remarkable resemblance to any small New England town. Most of the women in Galen are beautiful (or at least striking), and the residents just go on about their normal lives. Then tragedy strikes, and a young woman is brutally raped and murdered. When this tragedy begins to repeat itself over and over, even the most outlandish explanation seems plausible. Throw in the handsome anthropologist turned supernatural investigator, his love interest (the beautiful local newspaper editor), a dedicated but baffled sheriff, a gruff but loveable town doctor, and a rich but mysterious family with a secret history and a big house on the hill, and you have all the makings for a perfect 70s horror novel. Oh, and mix liberally with sexual innuendo, masculine protectiveness of female virtue, and loads of dreams, hallucinations, and flashbacks to ancient torture practices.
I was lucky enough to stumble across this paperback. I really love these 70s and 80s horror paperbacks and tend to hoard them. This one looked especially cheesy, but it turned out to be surprisingly good. The writing is solid, and the characters are interesting. I enjoyed the story overall, and I finished this little gem in just a few hours. As the other reviewer points out, this was made into a 1981 movie starring John Cassavetes and John Ireland. They merely moved Galen from California to New England, but most of the plot remained intact. If you like old horror novels, this one is a must. It's pretty darn good, stands the test of time, and is well worth a trip to your used bookstore to find it.