This time around, Matt Cahill finds himself in the American Southwest, trudging through New Mexico. While hitching a ride, Matt notices a blood-red mesa off in the distance, and feels a now-familiar calling to go investigate. Walking on foot, he encounters a man and a woman with a broken down flatbed truck. The woman is pretty and friendly to boot. The man is quarrelsome, suspicious, and to Matt's eye, half his face is falling away from the evil rot Matt is able to see. Much adventure ensues.
The Blood Mesa is not an extraordinarily complex story. In fact, I would say it's the most linear and straightforward of the DEAN MAN stories so far. But this doesn't make it bad, or detract in any way from my enjoyment of Reasoner's yarn. Cahill journeys with his new acquaintances to the top of Blood Mesa (can anything good ever come of going to a place with the word "blood" in its name?), where an archaeological dig is taking place, examining an abandoned Anasazi village. The Anasazi, as anyone who reads weird adventure stories and creepy folklore can tell you, disappeared very suddenly from the southwest with no real reason that anyone can pin down - the Roanoke settlers of aboriginal American tribes. What makes the Anasazi even more ripe for weird/horror story fodder is the archaeological evidence found around some of their abandoned camps; namely human remains that appear butchered with tools and gnawed upon by human teeth. Yes, that's right - the Anasazi are suspected of being cannibals.
All of this, as well as the appearance of the diabolical Mr. Dark early on in the story, and you've got a nice recipe for trouble. Matt's axe comes into play in a big way over the course of this adventure, one of the most brutal and violent entries in an already brutal and violent series. The story riffs off of some creepy western themes, with a hefty dose of cannibalism, whacko/zombie-movie mania, and did I mention there's a few sticks of dynamite thrown in for good measure?
I have recently read a couple of James Reasoner's novels, and I consider The Blood Mesa another excellent yarn from the Texan author - it is highly recommended.