Power of the Dog by Don Winslow
Wednesday, January 25 @ 6:30 pm
Exceptional books illuminate, allowing us to see the world or ourselves in a way previously obscured. Sometimes, this new light reveals something awe-inspiring, beautiful, and mysterious. Other times, it reveals something brutal and horrifying, and maybe the lights should have just stayed off, because what is seen can never be unseen. The “Power of the Dog” is one of those books.
Unofficially America’s longest war, the Drug War is a failure. The bodies pile up, but the drugs continue to flow into people’s lungs, up their noses and through their veins. Meanwhile, the cartels that peddle them amass wealth, power, and influence. Winslow dramatizes this brutal reality in “The Power of the Dog.” We view it through the perspectives of Art Keller, a rogue DEA agent, and Adan Barrera, Keller’s former friend who consolidated power to become the Drug Kingpin of all of Mexico, el patron. Through the eyes of these rivals, we witness 25 years of brutal violence, heartbreaking betrayals, and empty victories in a game that nobody ever wins.
The seriousness of the issue and the depth of the characters separate “The Power of the Dog” from the average crime fiction. The Drug War and Cold War intertwine, alliances tangle, and Faustian bargains are the only options available. Keller knows the battle against the cartels will cost him everything, but his addiction to this dogfight is as powerful as any drug. Barrera would like to run the cartel with the banality of a corporation, but the cost of being the king is paid in blood.
Wars aren’t fought by two people alone. Reluctant killers, left-wing priests, perspicacious prostitutes, Mexican cowboys and an alphabet soup of government organizations on both sides of the border have agendas of their own, and nobody comes out of this combat unscathed. Some pay in dollars. Some pay with their lives, and some pay with their souls.