Monday, November 9, 2015

Done: "The Cartel" by Don Winslow

Done: The Cartel by Don Winslow, 2015, 9781101874998.

More death and destruction across Mexico as DEA Agent Art Keller is persuaded to join the hunt for Adan Barrera. Winslow mixes fiction and reality together the same way as he did with Power of the Dog. Barrera seems based on Joaquin "El Chapo' Guzman.

Art Keller is hiding out with monks as Adan Barrera sits in prison. Keller keeps bees as he hides out from Barrera's death bounty. Barrera has his own prison wing to himself, lives in luxury, and brings in any visitors he wants for parties. Keller ends up rejoining DEA when Barrera escapes prison.

Keller heads to Mexico City as an advisor. Corruption is rampant because of the tons -literally - of cash that the Mexican drug cartels have. Those who cannot be bought are killed. Anyway.  I don't have the energy or interest in recapping the whole novel.

Winslow does a great job of using his many characters to walk us through ten years of war in Mexico. The Presidential administration has taken sides. The local towns take sides - or are forced to take sides. The people in the middle get crushed. Like in any war the it is the civilians who always get in the neck.

Winslow tells us about the many cartels as the war escalates.Beheadings. Massacres. Kidnappings. Public display of corpses and body parts.  Dedsheet banners hanging from bridges and announcing intended victims. The Zetas - former Army special forces - are particularly inhuman and deserve death.

We meet people trying to stand up to the violence and lawlessness. Northern border towns are abandoned as cartels force out the police and city  government. Journalists try to write about the events and are murdered. Women step into City administrations and are raped and/or murdered. The only person to take on the job of a small town Police Chief is a 20-year-old woman with no experience. She is killed.

Things settle down a bit. Enough people are killed for a truce to take place.

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