Wow - this book has jumped straight to the top of my favourites list. It has it all - drugs, sex, violence, politics, religion. It has Mexican drug cartels, Italian and Irish Mafia, veteran DEA and CIA agents, hookers and priests, communist guerrillas and high-level government cover-ups. Its like a cross between Scarface and Killing Pablo, charting the rise of the fictional Barrera brothers from street hoodlums to billionaire drug lords, and the catalogue of torture and killing left in their wake. Central to this is the obsessive DEA agent Art Keller, who pulls out all the stops to bring them down, battling the bandits and his own conscience as he discovers the truth about the real war on drugs.
Every chapter has a running gun battle, an interrogation scene, a double-crossing or a brutal murder. At times it even feels like there's too much action, but this doesn't detract from the gripping and complex plot. It's huge in scope, spanning 30 years and several countries, interlinking different characters and organisations and playing them off against each other, keeping us guessing until its bloody conclusion.
Wimslow's prose is great, eloquent enough but sprinkled with street slang and gangster-speak. No flowery language, just straight to the point and hard as nails. The violence is shocking and frequent (torture scenes leave little to the imagination). This is undoubtedly a blokes' book, a testosterone-packed powerhouse of a novel, and certainly not for the faint-hearted.
My favourite book used to be The Godfather. Not any more. Power of the Dog is even better, and as the front cover states, a future classic.
Essential reading. 5 stars.