The Turning by Justin Scott
This 1978 horror was described in 'Paperbacks From Hell' as being about satanism, it isn't. The entire plot is given away on the back cover. This is a delightfully odd horror about a dying small town taken over by a religious cult. The town ignores the cult, like it ignores the adultery and domestic violence that became attempted murder commited by various citizens.
The local doctor is a small town boy made good. He is an abject failure of a man who has completely failed as a husband and father. He ignores his bullied daughter and only notes she is “undeveloped” and signals his distain for his wife by cheating on her constantly without remorse. He is the worst person in the history of humanity.
When the cult shows up, he rabidly opposes it. This book commits to the ludicrousness as the doc does his pitifully inadequate rejection of the cult and encourages obstructionism. He does much to infuriate and is too pompous in moral tone and he's overtly hostile. His opposition to the cult becomes life-threateningly dangerous and he becomes ever more chronically dissatisfied. This was good even if some 70s tropes were unintentionally hilarious.
There is polite unease, pointed courtsey breaks down, naked conflict erupts, deliverance turns to danger, wild filthy accusations are yelled and the doctor loves being in an antagonistic mindset. He deserves every misery coing his way in the downer ending. He's left in utter isolation by being scarily obsessive and making a life changing mistake and being perpetually angry and having barely concealed resentment of his wife and child.
“What limits did they impose on themselves?”
“I can't afford favors.”
“How'd you find this hole?”
“Chopped it out of the brush,”
“Conducting himself like a decent citizen.”
“Watching the hog judging.”
“And I want my town back, my home.”