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The Power of the Dog Paperback – May 9, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
The war on drugs is powerfully dramatized in Winslow's ambitious, dense and gritty latest (after 1999's California Fire and Life). Art Keller is a brilliant DEA agent who sometimes breaks the rules to serve justice. Adan Barrera is an urbane drug dealer whose charm masks his brutality. Nora Hayden is a high-class call girl whose heart is in the right place. And Sean Callan is a taciturn mob hit man, a stone-cold killer who just wants out of the life. Winslow follows these four characters and assorted extras as they cross paths over three decades in the international drug trade, from Keller's first encounter with Barrera in 1970s Mexico, through the drug cartels' corruption of government officials in the U.S. and Mexico governments, to a final showdown on the U.S. border in 1999. Winslow's depth of research and unflagging attention to detail give the story both heft and immediacy, and his staccato, present-tense prose shifts easily among wildly disparate settings and multiple points of view. A complex plot, well-drawn characters and plenty of double-crossing make this a thinking person's narco-thriller. Agent, Jimmy Vines. Author tour. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Winslow (California Fire and Life, 1999) once again offers a crime novel with breakneck pacing, a sardonic worldview, and a teeming cast of superheated characters. He also displays bold ambition as he takes on the war on drugs, moving his extremely violent story between the DEA, the Latin American drug cartels, and the Mob. At the center of the novel is DEA agent Art Keller, who makes a fatal mistake as an idealistic rookie. On his first posting, to Culiacan, Mexico, capital of the drug trade, Art befriends the Barrera brothers. Their friendship will eventually turn into a personal vendetta of epic proportions when it is revealed that their uncle, Miguel, a member of the state police, is a drug kingpin. The cast also features an Irish hit man, a call girl, and a priest, as Winslow feverishly indicts the U.S. war on drugs, tracing flawed policies that have cost DEA agents their lives yet failed to stop the flow of drugs across the border. Intricate plotting and manic energy power this page-turner. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
It's a compelling page turner. It kind of reminded me of a George RR Martin novel with the cast of characters and the turns the story(ies) take. Martin would have split this into 3 books and added about fifteen hundred pages of detail, but Winslow opts to pen a tale that reads more like a TV show/movie at times. I'd compare it to one of the great Russian novels, it comes close, but at times there is a lack of introspection that marks those works in the service of moving the story along, which is fine.
There are no true "good" guys in this tale, as there are none in the world. Let me say it better: the "good" ones, the innocent, don't last long when they come into contact with the seedier elements surrounding the rise of the powerful Mexican drug cartels. The nominal white-hat good guys, the DEA, CIA, and various other government operatives, are complicit in wrong- and downright evil doing. Winslow pulls no punches, and though this is a work of fiction, it could easily have been a work of historical fiction, encompassing everything from Operation Phoenix in Vietnam, the US government's battle against perceived communist elements in Latin America, the ascension to power of John Gotti (here called Johnny Boy) as head of the New York crime families, the role the US govt. and its agencies played in flooding the inner cities with crack cocaine, and how the NAFTA trade agreement facilitated the drug cartels. Phew!
My only criticism were there were one (really two) scenes near the end that really read like suspense-building nail biters for the large or small screen and seemed out of place with the rest of the novel. They were what they were, but I'll admit they had me on the edge of my seat to see how Winslow would pull them off.
I'm taking a break for awhile, read some other (lighter) stuff, then diving into The Cartel. Well done Mr. Winslow!
Also, the use of present tense does not accomplish much. A very few novels might require this verb tense, but here it seems a mere affectation and an attempt to draw attention to itself. Overall, the book would have benefited from a traditional past tense presentation.
Guess I won't be buying any more Winslow books.
events that occurred in this important struggle for domination in the drug world.
I'm delighted to say that the accolades Winslow got must equally apply to this earlier novel too. His characters are fully believable and spring off the page with great force and achieve a totally convincing documentary-like reality that grips you from start to finish. Believe me it's tough to put down for a moment the characters are so mesmerizing. A terrific read.