The Haunted Mesa - Louis L'Amour

A good idea with total mediocre execution. The prime example of a 'it's okay' book. A perfect fit for the two star rank.

 

Mike Raglan is a myth debunk-er - a profession he stumbled up on in his youth when outing a sham magician. Called on all over the world, he travels and investigates the magical, supernatural, and otherworldly - and while he's not a cynic and seeks these things in part because he too wants to believe, he's skeptical and therefore able to dig out the facts.

 

For this reason, when his scientist friend stumbles upon something really weird on the site that he's building, a middle-of-nowhere-mesa, and finds himself in some really weird trouble...Erik knows just who to call (or in this case, write. It's set in the 70's.)

 

There was some question about whether or not this would fit in my 'Supernatural' square. After all, L'Amour writes westerns, right? The book flap indicated that it was a possibility that L'Amour would go there, so I gave it a shot. As he was a life long student of Indian history and Indian mysticism, even if it didn't fit, I knew I'd learn something along the way. I did enjoy a little tidbit here and there AND it definitely went supernatural.

 

The premise of the book revolves around the disappearance of the cave dwellers that were in this part of the world prior to the Hopi, Ute and Navajo Indian. This area, the four-corners of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico, is home to many ruins and mystery - and at the time of L'Amour's writing - undiscovered history.

 

Mike's friend Erik stumbles upon what might of happened to these people, and while Mike is looking for Erik who has disappeared, he is reminded of all the lore and myth that surrounds this area...eventually locating doorways to the "Third World" or another dimension from which the cave dwellers came and went. The story concludes with Mike crossing the veil, rescuing Erik who was being held prisoner there, along with a couple of other people who'd found themselves stuck on the other side.

 

The Haunted Mesa had all the promise of a great read, but L'Amour's writing kept it from being anything special. His constant use of questions in the Mike's inner dialogue to move the narrative along was beyond frustrating and felt very amateurish..."Where had Erik gone? Was he okay? Is there really something to these old tales? Was he going to go after him? Was he stuck there? Where was Erik?"...over and over and over again.

 

Additionally, Mike lacked any conviction in his decisions, which made him a weak hero. I'm sure that this is actually L'Amour's schtick - Mike was no hero, he was just an everyday man who was trying to make the right, brave choice. I'd be okay with that but Mike had apparently been all over the world to include dangerous places, knew things like jujitsu and how to handle a gun, and was somewhat of a survivalist. You can't have it both ways - he was either someone who spent a great deal of time being brave and high-spirited, or he was an indecisive wet-rag. He needed to pick one for conviction of character.

 

I can't say I'd recommend this, but I'm glad I read it because it knocked one more book off the ole' Mount TBR, and another off L'Amour's catalogue.