Border
by Winslow, Don






Promoted by the DEA after a crucial victory, Art Keller is targeted by the power-hungry traffickers behind an American heroin epidemic.





*Starred Review* The publication of the concluding volume in Winslow's epic Cartel Trilogy represents a landmark moment in crime fiction, and it couldn't come at a more propitious time-just as debate over the construction of Donald Trump's ballyhooed border wall has closed down the U.S. government. The intermingling of fact and fiction is even more omnipresent here than it was in the earlier volumes-and this time, it includes a bloviating, would-be-wall-building president under investigation for his son-in-law's ties not to Russia but to the Mexican drug cartels. Connecting the dots from fictional characters and events to real-life ones will fuel much commentary in the coming weeks, but in the end, it is Winslow's remarkable ability to translate the utter fiasco of our 50-year War on Drugs-the thousands upon thousands of lives lost in cartel-driven violence, the journalists assassinated, the addicts dead from overdoses as the heroin epidemic spreads across America-into the most wrenching of human stories, tragedy seemingly without end, that gives this novel its unparalleled power. Winslow picks up the story of Art Keller, the DEA agent who has spent 40 years of his life fighting the War on Drugs, first in The Power of the Dog (2005) and then in The Cartel? (2015), as he becomes head administrator of the DEA in 2014. His plan is to focus not only on what the cartels are doing in Mexico (killing cartel chieftain Aidan Barrera in the previous book has done nothing to stop the flow of drugs) but also on what happens on the American side of the border, especially on Wall Street, where hedge-fund operators, including the son-in-law of the soon-to-be president, make billions by laundering cartel money. Naturally, Keller makes enemies the closer his multiyear investigation draws to the White House, forcing him to worry that the skeletons in his own closet (who really killed Barrera?) will prove to be his Achilles heel. As fascinating as the details behind the power politics are, it is the parallel stories that Winslow tells alongside the D.C. plot that give the book its dimension, producing a kind of symphonic texture as we watch the cartel factions struggle to fill the vacuum left by Barrera's death and as we follow the perilous journey of two 10-year-old Guatemalans attempting to make their way to America and finding that hell takes many different shapes. There are multiple other, seamlessly integrated stories, too-about an NYPD undercover cop tracking the drugs that the hedge-funders finance; about individual addicts who use those drugs; about a former hit man for the cartels trying to forge a separate peace-but all of those stories come together in a crescendo of pain mixed with courage. Like Keller, Winslow has spent decades immersed in the drug wars, and his prodigious research and ability to combine massive amounts of detail into a structured whole show on every page of this trilogy. But coming through with equal force is his eloquence. Throw out all the endless babble we are subjected to about the border crisis and remember only this: A border is something that divides us but also unites us; there can be no real wall, just as there is no wall that divides the human soul between its best impulses and its worst. Keller knows. He's been on both sides of the border. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.





Winslow (The Cartel, 2015, etc.) wraps up his trilogy, 20 years in the making, on the war on drugs as it's played out on the U.S.-Mexico border. Art Keller is a man with enemies. Wherever he goes, he leaves a pile of bodies behind him—narcotraficantes, cops on the take, bad guys of every description. Sometimes he plies his trade in Guatemala, sometimes El Paso, sometimes D.C., wherever the white lines take him. But now—well, he's in trouble, at war "against his own DEA, the U.S. Senate, the Mexican drug cartels, even the president of the United States." Someone is irritated enough at him, in fact, that a sniper has been dispatched to shoot up the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where Keller is paying his respects. That's guaranteed to tick Keller off, and so he goes into battle in a changed scenario: The hit men and Zetas of old are shadows of their former selves while the new generation struts around, as one does, in "a black Saint Laurent jacket that has to go for at least three grand." When Keller notices such stuff, it means you're on his radar, which is not where you want to be. He recruits a few like-minded warriors, and off they go. Well, some of them, anyway: "If you want to be in the real war, fly back to Seattle, pack your things, and be here ready to work first thing Monday morning," he growls to a kid who wants to go zipping around in helicopters with a knife between his teeth instead of manning a desk. The bad guys begin to drop off in a tale that's part Tom Clancy, part didactic and ever-so-gritty how-it's-done asides ("The Americans teamed with the Mexican marines on raids that were basically executions") and part old-school shoot'em-up: "Keller takes the policeman's sidearm—a 9mm Glock—and moves through the trees toward the shooter." Jack Ryan's got nothing on Winslow's guy. An action-filled, sometimes even instructive look at the world of the narcos and their discontents. Copyright Kirkus 2019 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.






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