Tuesday, December 20, 2016


I've owned this book for years but kept putting it off until now. I got about 50 pages in and knew that I should have gotten around to this earlier and was peeved at myself for wasting time this year on more disappointing reads. This is the type of book that doesn't come around too often. A book that finds the perfect balance between it's attention to detail and research, it's sensitivity to character, and it's great structure, all wrapped up in passionate prose.

Imagine a mix of Traffic, Sicario, and Narcos, with elements of The Godfather and then multiply it by 3, then you'll get a sense of what to expect from The Power of the Dog, which details an epic battle during America's unwinnable War on Drugs, a 30-year battle between DEA agent Art Keller and Mexican cartel lord Adán Barrera, who were once good buddies. We witness the rise of both men within their respective ranks, and as the feud strengthens, they struggle to stay one step ahead of the other, dragging others into the trenches with them, into a war that neither side can truly win.

This was one of the longest books I read this year, but it felt like I sped through reading it. It was endlessly engaging and one of the most compulsively readable books for me this year. Every character was fascinating and I found myself rooting for all of them, especially Art Keller and his unwavering drive to bring down the Barreras, and Sean Callan, a young New Yorker whose fateful actions to protect his buddy leads him into a life of violence where he faces a constant struggle to keep his morals. And it's all very tragic, because all of this violence and death is part of a silly "War" on Drugs where the priorities and the objectives have been skewed big time, a war that should've ended a long time ago.

You know those addictive tv shows that you can't help but binge-watch on Netflix, Prime, or HBONow all weekend? Well, here's one in book form. And guess what? There's a sequel.



  1. I gave up after several chapters because Keller seemed too good to be true, or too "likeable" (CHOOSING not to come top in his class in DEA training, etc.). I prefer my characters flawed. That's to say, an attempt to save the day is more interesting/challenging when you're an alcoholic or overweight or some sort of failure. Anyway, should I try again with The Power of the Dog? Does Keller develop some twisted or flawed qualities? Thanks!

  2. Keller's obsession gets worse and worse, causing him to make some decisions that have epically terrible consequences. I definitely consider Keller to be a failure; no he's not an alcoholic or anything (I think alcoholism has gotten a little played out in crime fiction), but I do think he's flawed, and his winning or failing isn't as cut and dry as you might think! Give it another go!


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