The reading copy I received of The Border has embossed on the front “I remember the exact day this all began. September 19, 1998. Twenty years to the day now…” taken from a letter Don Winslow has written inside the reading copy. I can remember the first time The Power of the Dog was put in my hands. It was a birthday present in 2005. A friend gave me a copy and simply said wait until you read this. I had never heard of Don Winslow and was literally blown away the moment I began. I couldn’t stop reading. It was the perfect thriller and it was based on 7 years of meticulous research. This stuff happened. Set on the US/Mexican border the novel spans 30 years of the so-called War on Drugs. The book is so spot on it has even been referenced in non-fiction books on the drug war in Mexico.
The reason I became a bookseller was I loved putting a great book into people’s hands. Even better I loved putting an author or book into their hands they hadn’t heard of. The Power of the Dog was that book. I immediately contact my sales rep at the time and placed a big order for my bookshop. And proceeded the handsell the hell of it. Word of mouth spread and The Power of the Dog has become one of the biggest selling books in Pages & Pages history. I still love putting the book in someone’s hands.
Ten years later Don Winslow followed up The Power of the Dog with a sequel, The Cartel. A novel even more bloody, brutal and barbaric than its predecessor, reflecting what had happened in the ten years after The Power of the Dog. The Cartel is a thriller that is impossible to put down and impossible to forget. Again based on rigorous research The Cartel was ripped from the headlines of the war on drugs with real-life headlines almost coming from its pages when El Chapo escaped from prison just like a fictional cartel boss does in the pages of the book.
Don Winslow now returns to finish his epic trilogy in grand style.
Art Keller has been fighting the war on drugs for over forty years battling the Mexican Drug Cartels on the front lines in Mexico and along the border. But for every Cartel boss he has imprisoned or seen killed others rise in their place, bringing more violence and terror. As the Opioid Crisis in America gives way to a new Heroin epidemic the Mexican Drug Cartels just continue to get richer fighting amongst themselves for control.
Keller must now takes his fight home, to the streets of New York and the countless small towns ripped apart by this new epidemic. As Keller follows the flow of drugs and money he discovers that things on the US side of the border are not that different to the Mexican side. In fact the corruption is even worse. With an unlikely Presidential candidate making the border his election centerpiece Art Keller is about to try and fight his war on three fronts.
The Border brings Art Keller’s story up to the modern day. Where the first two books had the space of time to insulate you from the horrors they depicted The Border is even more horrific as it is so much closer to home. Going to twitter whilst reading The Border it was very easy to forget where the fiction ended and real world began the lines are so blurred together in this novel.
Don Winslow’s anger and frustrations at the continued cycle of the war on drugs are palpable in this book. The unceasing escalation of violence in Mexico, the overflowing prisons in the US and the never ending flow of drugs that become more potent as everybody competes to fill the insatiable appetite America has for illegal drugs. Winslow ties all this together into a thriller that is utterly relentless in its pace and scope. From undercover cops to child migrants trying to escape their lives into what they think is peaceful America. Winslow weaves all this together, bringing back characters from the first book, building the tension and the stakes to the series’ dramatic conclusion.
The Border has everything that made the first two books so great and then some. The last pages of The Border are as exciting and as mind blowing as the first pages of The Power of the Dog were. Epic no longers seems to give this trilogy the justice it deserves. This is a masterpiece and a classic and is the benchmark every other thriller will be measured against from now on.