Beginning in the late seventies and stretching over a near thirty year period, Don Winslow’s The Power of the Dog follows organized crime and the devastation left in its wake.
In The Power of the Dog, Winslow heavily features the Mexican drug war, but he also tackles the mob in New York City, prostitution in southern California and the communist scare in South America. All of these locations and events share various characters that weave in and out of conflicts like a high speed motorcycle chase through highway traffic.
Art Keller, while sharing the spotlight with many other characters, is the driving force behind the novel. Through guilt (and later revenge), he fights against the Mexican drug cartel, The Federación, a group he inadvertently had a hand in creating. Keller is basically Batman, driven by revenge and a sense of self-righteousness. He’s fighting an uphill battle against murderous criminals whom he refuses to kill, instead choosing to have them tried by a hopelessly corrupt system as he tries to be a decent man in an indecent world.
However, as brutal as the world of Gotham City is, it ain’t got nothing on the violence littered throughout Winslow’s novel. There are some difficult scenes to get through in this book, so if you’re a little queasy or are unable to stomach graphic violence (one scene involving children in particular), I would probably steer clear. The thing is, this novel is heavily researched (Winslow worked on it for fifteen years prior to publication) as it mirrors many actual historical events, so I can’t imagine Winslow had to get all that creative when it came to the bloodshed.
In the end, The Power of the Dog is a compelling, eye opening novel that’s like nothing I’ve read before.