Book of the Month: The Power of the Dog

Cover of Don Winslow's The Power Of The Dog

Crazy title, great book

In a world full of drugs, where obsessed readers gorge down on Lee Child, Michael Connolly and James Ellroy like they were amphetamine coated candy pops, discovering Don Winslow is like getting your first sniff of crack cocaine. It’s fast, it’s all encompassing and when you’ve finished voraciously cramming The Power of the Dog down you just can’t wait to get another hit.

This is a two and a half day book, which isn’t to say it’s short, just that it’s compulsive. You’re totally hooked on Don’s decades long epic on the rise and fall of the Mexican cocaine cartels and the attempts of the authorities to put them out of business. There’s corruption a-plenty along with lashings of claret and more containerloads of coke than you can shake a nosespoon at.

But it’s not the subject matter that’s so compelling as much as it is Don’s ability to craft real, believable characters, each of whom speaks with a wholly unique, identifiable voice. You sympathise with each of them, whatever their status, and their hopes, ambitions and fears all seem thoroughly real. In this way it reminds me of Ellroy’s LA Confidential, a grand, sprawling behemoth of a novel that interlinks story after story into a powerful narrative that evokes both time and place and gives you a sense of really being there in amongst the action.

This is one of those books you just devour and, having finally consumed it, immediately want to  begin again if only to recapture the sensation of reading it once more. Depending on your character, you’re torn between immediately lending it out to your very best friend so they can share the experience and never mentioning it to anyone and hoarding it all for yourself.  I’m of the former disposition and have already lent it and by god I’m almost regretting it. There’s only one thing left to do and that’s to get stuck into all Don’s other work. Like crack, one dose is not enough.