Shadow on the Mesa

Written by Lee Martin
Review by Jeff Westerhoff

In 1883 Arizona Territory, three men murder an Arapaho Indian woman named Mary Antelope. In Wyoming Territory, Wes Montana, a hired gun for the Cattlemen’s Association, is tired of the killing that goes with his job and heads south to Arizona. Upon learning of his mother’s death, he believes his father, Ray Eastman, has killed her. He seeks revenge against Eastman, who had abandoned Wes’s pregnant mother before he was born. Eastman is a wealthy rancher, and Wes thinks that he wants to rid himself of his past relationships, especially an Indian wife.

This novel is based on the author’s screenplay, which became a TV movie of the same title, and won an award for best western-themed television film. I found the novel to be a character study of each of the individuals in the book, rather than the gun-slinging western that you would expect from the credentials of the main character. The story kept me interested until the end, a real page-turner. It’s an enjoyable western, and I look forward to watching the film, now that it is available on DVD. Highly recommended.