A. S. Fleischman's The Sun Worshippers is half one a new double from Stark House. The other half is Yellowleg, a western novel filmed as The Deadly Companions, but The Sun Worshippers has a more modern setting. It didn't find a home during Fleischman's lifetime, but I found it to be interesting and entertaining reading.
Gamage is an ex-newspaper reporter who's come to a small southern California town named Thebes near the Salton Sea to write the official biography of Colonel Martinka, the town's wealthiest citizen, a man who made a fortune as a date farmer, but who now seems to be interested in getting rid of his crops and turning into a land developer. The people of the town aren't too thrilled with this idea, especially the publisher of the local newspaper.
Gamage is just interested in the fee he's going to get for the biography, at least at first, but things don't turn out to be what they'd seemed. Martinka's son, Frank, is married to Gamage's old flame, who's very interested in rekindling the romance. Accounts of the past don't square up with each other. Frank is intent on keeping Gamage from meeting his father and mother. Martinka has secrets in his past that nobody's talking about.
Fleischman kept me guessing all the way through, and there are some surprises along the way. This is good reading from a fine storyteller.