The Haunted Mesa

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Mike Raglan grew up in the American West. Orphaned early, he held a variety of ranching and mining jobs, educated himself, and became a journalist and finally an author specializing in supposedly unexplained phenomena all over the world.

Upon receiving a plea from Erik Hokart, he returns to his native area, the mesa country of southeastern Utah. There he discovers that Erik has been captured by people from another world. This is the Third World, from which the Hopi Indians believe they came through a hole in the ground into the Fourth World where they now live.

Mike becomes convinced that there are places in the mesa country where one can pass between the two worlds. He eventually learns that the Anasazi people, who once built a progressive civilization but disappeared mysteriously in the thirteenth century, came from this world, then returned to it when life grew too difficult in the Fourth World.

The Third World is dominated by a repressive dictatorship that desires to gain Fourth World technology while keeping out new ideas. Mike believes that they will preserve Erik to gain his knowledge of electronic communication.

Driven by his sense of honor, Mike must struggle against deadly, if inept, agents from the other world and his own fear and ignorance of their ways. Guided by friendly dissidents, including a woman with whom he falls in love, he enters the unknown world to attempt the rescue.

Though fantasy is new to L’Amour, the setting and major elements are familiar: In the West, a hero of an open, dynamic society confronts representatives of a closed, stagnant society.