The Border

Mysterious Book Report No. 368

by John Dwaine McKenna

No matter what side of the political and social rift you’re on, we can all agree that our southern border—the invisible line—which designates the United States of America from the United Mexican States, is one of the most contentious places on planet earth.  As such, it abounds with tales of human tragedy, hope, criminality, heroism, death, life, dreams and disasters.  It is a place of legend, with stories too numerous to count, as well as a place of endless fascination.  And now, in the culmination of a twenty-year effort from one of America’s best crime fiction and thriller writers, it’s the last volume of a trilogy about the drug wars . . . as seen through the eyes of a tough, pragmatic DEA agent named Art Keller . . . that began in 2005 with the publication of The Power of the Dog, followed in 2015 by The Cartel.

Now, in what can only be called his magnum opus, crime fiction master Don Winslow brings it to a crescendo in The Border, (William Morrow/Harper Collins, $28.99, 720 pages, ISBN 978-0-06-26648-8.)

Art Keller has spent his entire adult life fighting the drug cartels and trying to capture or kill the head of the Sinaloa Cartel: Adán Barrera, the godfather of all the Narcos.  It’s been a long and bloody fight that’s cost Keller his family, friends, a partner who was like a brother, and a piece of his soul . . . but it cost Barrera his life.  In a cruel twist of fate however, Keller, now the politically appointed head of the DEA, finds that killing one monster has created thirty new ones, and a new drug war has broken out in Mexico, with fresh young Narcos vying to take over.  From his position atop the agency, Keller sees that the fifty year War on Drugs is a failure, and realizes that the enemy isn’t just in Mexico, it’s his own government, the addicts, users and dope slingers who sell the poison that’s killing 70,000 people a year from overdoses.  Heroin is Adán’s Barrera’s legacy, and every time a junkie uses, someone makes money.  Keller thinks it’s fueling the US economy, but still puts together a far-ranging clandestine program called “Operation Agitator,” targeting the politicians, financiers and bosses of the cartels.  It’s ambitious, far-reaching and possibly fatal . . . because one of the Narco targets has proof of Keller’s involvement in a crime in Central America and is threatening him with exposure . . . while at the same time, Keller has evidence implicating the newly-elected US President’s son-in-law of being involved in a real estate deal that uses drug cartel money to complete the financing.

From the slums of Guatemala City, to the financial canyons and corporate board rooms of Wall Street, to the halls of Congress and even the Oval Office of the White House, The Border, is epic in scope and far-reaching in content.  It is a work of immense scale and deep impact that should be read by each and every voting adult in America.  It’s a thought-provoking blockbuster, and one for the ages!

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John Dwaine McKenna