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Power of the Dog by Don Winslow

The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow is a historical fiction novel centered around USA’s “war on drugs”. The story follows border lord Art Keller as he tries to take down drug lord Adan Barrera. During this years long battle, we are introduced to a laundry list of characters ranging from dopey mob members to high end prostitutes; low level gangbangers and hired hitmen.

The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow

The story is well written and action packed. It is full of blood and violence and situations that are hard to take in at times. But this makes the story flow and keeps the pages turning rapidly.

As the story progressed, there were some situations that seemed a bit far fetched. And some of the characters started to blend together. The two “lords” kept saying how much they cared about their families but really didn’t show it. Part of this was their inner struggle of being trapped in this “war” with no way to escape. But it felt a bit false when they both chose their profession over the families they supposedly cared so much for.

I ended up not really caring about all the characters except Sean Callan, an Irish mob hitman, Nora Hayden, the high end prostitute, and Juan Parada, a priest. These are the three characters that seem to grow the most. Callan could really be considered the third main character as we follow his arc throughout the book.

Overall, the story is immersive, making you feel part of the action. Some characters you feel sorry for and then you don’t. The setting sometimes lacked. It switched from San Diego to various places in Mexico or even further south but wasn’t always easy to differentiate. The characters and plot made the story great.

The Power of the Dog is the first of a series and I plan on continuing with the second one.