The Haunted Mesa by Louis L’Amour
From the back of the book:
L’Amour’s inspiration for The Haunted Mesa, his biggest hardcover bestseller ever, is a centuries-old enigma that has baffled historians: the sudden disappearance off the face of the earth of a race of Southwestern cliff dwellers the Navajos called the Anasazi. Summoned to a dark desert plateau by the desperate letter of an old friend, renowned investigator Mike Raglan is slowly drawn into a world of mystery and violence, where he will ultimately learn the astonishing legacy of the Anasazi.
Explaining what happened to the Anasazi is an interesting concept and adding the fantastical elements made it more interesting still. Unfortunately the book itself wasn’t very interesting. It started out mysterious and kind of spooky but then it settled into a rut. Mike Raglan goes to save a friend from some unknown danger and he has to think about it a lot. You hear him go over the few facts he has in his head and then he explains these facts to someone else and then he goes over them in his head again, and again. He keeps repeating that he’s scared, that he doesn’t know what he has gotten himself into or why, that he could just turn around and go home. He keeps asking the same unanswerable questions. The same things in much the same words over and over again until you could almost recite the passages yourself. Introspection is fine but in this case I don’t think we needed 250 pages of it. When there is no new information or new insights it starts to get monotonous. I think L’Amour wanted to make a point that Mike was just an ordinary man who got scared like the rest of us but did what had to be done anyway. He did make that point. Endlessly. It did pick up in the last 100 pages or so when thinking led to a decision and then some actual action. The concept was good, the characters were fine and I liked L'Amour's interesting explanation of what happened to the Anasazi but the story took a long time to develop and I think if 100 pages of Mike’s repetitive thoughts were cut out it would have been a better book.