This month’s instalment in The Dead Man series is The Blood Mesa by James Reasoner and a bloody good read it is too – with the emphasis on the word ‘blood’ – but you knew that from the title, didn’t you?
For those who have read any or all of The Dead Man series (and I urge you all to do so), you’ll be familiar with the lead character Matthew Cahill; his ongoing quest to find the elusive Mr. Dark; and his preferred weapon in his fight against evil – his trusty axe. So when an entry in the series is called The Blood Mesa – and is set at an archeological site, certain expectations are bound to form in your mind. They did in mine. So my evaluation of this story is based purely on whether my expectations were met. And they were – and in an extremely entertaining fashion. At the risk of using lazy comparisons, this story is the bastard child of an old Hammer Horror film (or maybe Raiders of the Lost Ark) and The Night of the Living Dead.
Normally I write a brief synopsis, or outline the introduction to the story in my reviews. Generally I believe it helps lead readers into the type of story they are going to get. However, I will refrain on this occasion because unlike other entries in The Dead Man series, The Blood Mesa doesn’t offer too many twists and turns, and most astute readers will know exactly where the story is heading. The joy comes from, not only a story that delivers what it promises, but told at such pace that it will leave most readers breathless. This story is the literary equivalent to a drag strip race, with the title page being the starting line, and the first paragraph being the green light. From its opening, the story keeps accelerating until its brutal climax. That truly is its strength – it’s rapid fire pace and its unflinching brutality (which you’ve got to expect from a series featuring an axe wielding hero).
As we are now at the fifth book in The Dead Man series, the creators Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin, and the roster of writers may have painted themselves into a corner. The series has been of such a high standard that I keep expecting a misstep or at the very least, a rehash of something that has gone before. So far they have avoided that pitfall, and author James Reasoner keeps the flag flying high with an entry that is unlike others in the series, but still manages to utilise the established tropes, and is damned entertaining to boot. Next up in the series is Kill Them All by Harry Shannon – and he has inherited a tough job. Can he serve up something new, yet retain the flavour of the series? I can’t wait till next month to find out!
The Dead Man: The Blood Mesa is available from Amazon (and the usual outlets).