Finished: Power of the Dog by Don Winslow, 2005, 0375405380.
Very good. Fictionalization of the Mexican drug war and US intervention in Central and South America from the mid-1970s to 2000. Winslow fictionalizes Enrique Camarena, the Arrellano brothers, murdered Catholic Cardinal Posadas and many other real characters interwoven.
Four main characters with many secondary characters. Art is a DEA agent, Nora is a high end whore, Callan is a NYC Irish gangster and then CIA hitman, Adan Parada is a Mexican kingpin (Arellano Felix, I think).
Art's friend (fictionalized Camarena) is murdered and Art spends twenty years getting revenge against the Parada family. Callan imports coke and dope from Mexico and is drafted into the CIA by a mafiosa that works for both. Nora ends up the full-time mistress of Parada. Art convinces and threatens Nora into informing on Parada. All characters join in the end with death and destruction.
1. How much is based on reality and how much is made-up? I assume Winslow would not have to make much of this up. There are plenty of real atrocities and murders he could pick and choose from and use in the plot.
2. I regularly see the news reports of murder and massacre in Mexico. Winslow highlights the gruesome and horrid things that the narcos do to the public. Murdering children and torture before murder.
3. Parada and his brother are complete murderous scum. But, Winslow's real villains are the CIA and right-wing hacks behind the scenes. CIA agent Hobbs and mafia hitman Sal are both veterans of Project Phoenix in Vietnam. After that loss they continue the same tactics in Central and South America with operation Red Mist that focuses on "communists" and other non-establishment people. The CIA equally makes deals with death squads, drug dealers, and arms traders. They constantly get away with murder and even Art has to cut a deal with them to continue his fight against the Paradas.
4. The amount of money going back to the Paradas is $8 million a week. They can buy most anyone off and just kill the rest.
5. No characters finishes the novel innocent. All the good guys are killed.