The Totem was David Morrell's third novel, published 1979, following the blockbuster First Blood and a fair thriller Testament. I mentioned this one the other night on a thread started by Kuub to find the title of a long-lost book.
I know The Totem was mentioned here a year or so back, but can't find it now. My memory of the book is horribly vague, coming back as a sort of cross between Dawn of the Dead and Rabid. I think there was a wrecked sports car kept suspended in a cave by some hidden cult, with a dead man at the wheel.
So of course, in the end I had to hunt down a synopsis on-line. This was the best I could find:
One of the finest horror novels of the past twenty years...A taut, hell-for-leather plot...A thriller of rare ambition and achievement, as thought provoking as it is exciting and scary."
-Washington Post Book Word
Widely acclaimed as one of today's best novelists, bestselling author David Morrell presents a classic tale of horror and suspense that will leave you speechless...
When police chief Nathan Slaughter settles in a small town, his desperate hope is that he has forever left behind his nightmare past as a Detroit cop. This wish is suddenly shattered by a series of terrifying events: the discovery of mutilated cattle, the shocking death of an old man, and the disappearance of an entire family. Then townspeople are found without faces and children become insane. Now every time the full moon rises, a dark, vicious, and all too human force haunts the mountains, seeking its hour of vengeance. And for Nathan Slaughter, the real horror is only beginning...
George Sharpe's cover for my 1981 Pan still looks the best of all those online.