The Power of the Dog

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The title of the book comes from Psalm 22:20:

Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.
I previously became a Don Winslow fan via the crime novels The Death and Life of Bobby Z and California Fire and Life. This book, in comparison, is a sprawling epic, weighing in at 542 pages. However, it's what they call a page-turner; there's suspense and action throughout.

The book covers about 29 years in the life of protagonist Art Keller, an ex-CIA Vietnam guy who takes up with the DEA afterward, and is assigned to the Mexican front of the war on drugs. He soon becomes obsessed with taking down the drug-kingpin Barrera family; it takes every one of those 29 years for things to come to a conclusion.

Along the way, there are a host of colorful characters: priests, hookers, mob guys, mercenaries, traitors, conspiracists, associated family members. Most wind up dead in unpleasant ways; all get their lives near-irreparably damaged in one way or another.

Even Opus Dei makes an appearance; shades of The Da Vinci Code! It's a real kitchen sink.

People wanting to undertake the book should be aware that the violence described is extreme and unremitting. For me, it lost the power to shock around page 340 or so.

One major theme was the pointlessness and waste of the USA's war on drugs, and how it funds evil policies. I was already a believer on that point.

Last Modified 2012-10-17 2:48 PM EDT