It’s been ages since I read a proper crime novel – about 30 years since I’ve gobbled up the detectives of Jef Geeraerts in my very early teens, and about 25 years since I’ve read the historical whodunit An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears, the 19th century police procedural The Alienist by Caleb Carr and The Red Ripper by Peter Conrad, a true crime title about Andrei Chikatilo, a Soviet serial killer who murdered & mutilated over 50 women and children.
Popular culture being what it is, I’m obviously no stranger to the genre in other forms, and I count Michael Mann’s Heat as one of my favorite movies.
Enter Don Winslow’s The Power of the Dog, a 543-page novel that chronicles the Mexican drug trade and the DEA’s involvement in the War on Drugs from 1975 to 1999, with a short epilogue in 2004. The book took 6 years to research and write, and it is its realism that is one of its main draws – next to a bulk of other strong suits.
10 years after its publication, Winslow published a sequel, The Cartel, and in 2019 he finished what has become The Cartel trilogy with The Border. I don’t think Wilson envisioned writing a trilogy from the start, but either way The Power of the Dog works perfectly well as a standalone work.
I’ll probably end up reading the entire trilogy – this first one is a brilliant 5-star book – but I’ve had my fix for now, so it might take me a year before I’ll start The Cartel.