The Border, by Don Winslow.
This is the last book of master crime-writer Don Winslow’s trilogy which started with ‘The Power of the Dog’, followed by ‘The Cartel’. Now this magnificent, terrible story of the drug war between Mexico and the USA comes to an end; several of the major characters have died, including Adan Barrera, ‘El Senor’, supreme leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel, with whom the Mexican government negotiated a deal: if they gave his cartel autonomy, then the myriad killings of innocent people could be kept to a more ‘manageable’ level.
Yep, sounds like a plan. But Barrera has now been murdered and his cartel is exposed to a take-over from rivals for whom brutality, sadism and ferocity are meat and drink: the butchering of innocents resumes, as does increased trafficking of heroin across the border to the cartels’ biggest customer – the USA.
New Head of the Drug Enforcement Agency Art Keller is once again at the helm of a special undercover unit tasked with tracing heroin shipments and money laundering movements by the bankers believed to be attached to the cartels, and what he eventually discovers is information to chill his blood, if only it can be proven: not only is drug money laundered by being provided as seed-money in New York hedge fund operations, but the faceless people borrowing laundered Mexican drug money reside at the very top: the new White House administration. Art Keller has always been a Lone Wolf and as such will never be popular. But he is brave and honourable and believes in doing the right thing, and the right thing here is to expose the corruption and rot within those at the highest levels, those whose only god is money. He knows it is a battle he cannot win.
‘The Border’ teems with characters that delight and horrify the reader. The violence is gut-churningly graphic – there is no escape for us as the gory, bloody war that will never be won proceeds onwards; instead we can only marvel at Don Winslow’s genius at bringing this monumental tragedy to life with such cruel realism: although this is a work of fiction, it was all based on factual events, but the question remains: what is so fundamentally wrong with American society that they must continually seek the anaesthetic release from pain for, as long as there are buyers of poison, there will be vendors. Why?
This is a master work. SIX STARS.