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Books 8-9: The Power of the Dog and The Cartel by Don Winslow

Book 8: The Power of the Dog (Power of the Dog #1) .
Author: Don Winslow, 2005.
Genre: Period Fiction. Thriller. Drugs.
Other Details: ebook. 560 pages.

Art Keller is an obsessive DEA agent. The Barrera brothers are heirs to a drug empire. Nora Hayden is a jaded teenager who becomes a high-class hooker. Father Parada is a powerful and uncorruptable Catholic priest. Callan is an Irish kid from Hell’s kitchen who grows up to be a merciless hitman. And they are all trapped in the world of the Mexican drug Federación. From the streets of New York City to Mexico City and Tijuana to the jungles of Central America, this is the war on drugs like you’ve never seen it. - synopsis from author's website.

I recently borrowed his latest 'The Cartel' from the library and realised quickly that it was a sequel to this earlier novel, so slightly spoilt for a few aspects I went back to read this first.

An epic novel it opens in 1976 and ends in 1999 with a 2004 epilogue . It is a dark, brutal tale with most characters doing very dubious acts no matter if they are wearing white or black hats. As in a number of other period thrillers I have read recently the C.I.A. comes across as very sinister.

I loved it - finding it quite a ride from start to finish. Not a novel for the faint-hearted as there are many stomach-churning moments. Finishing it I moved straight on to The Cartel.

Book 9: The Cartel (Power of the Dog #2) .
Author: Don Winslow, 2015.
Genre: Thriller. Drugs.
Other Details: Hardback. 640 pages.

The official synopsis for this novel contains many spoilers for The Power of the Dog and so I will not reproduce. The events here follow on from those above in 2004. New characters are introduced as a few others bow out. It continues the high action, ultra-violence of 'The Power of the Dog'.

The violence was searing and as these novels are based on actual events even more disturbing. I wasn't quite sure about the ending though considering it over the days that followed there was probably no other way for it to conclude. While again not a novel for the faint-hearted it does underline the terrible cost that the so called war on drugs and the drug trade itself inflicted on the people of Mexico let alone the ruined lives of end users trapped in adduction.

Overall, a powerful duo of novels.
Tags: contemporary, drugs, period fiction (20th century), sexual violence, thriller
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