Don Winslow has a new book out, THE CARTEL, so I thought I’d pick up its spiritual ancestor, THE POWER OF THE DOG, and read that first. I have a few other books on the go, but one night I decided to just look at the first few pages. Which was a mistake. It bit in and didn’t let go. Finished it at 240 am on Sunday morning. It’s a monster. Winslow is one of those brutal writers, sentences all sinew and hard muscle, and, in Nabakov’s phrase, throws so many rocks at his characters that you genuinely don’t know which, if any, will survive to the end. He is incredibly good at threat, and anyone looking for a peaceful popcorn read will have to go elsewhere. It’s a story of The War On Drugs, and has the big decades-long sweep of the James Ellroy histories. Winslow writes with hammers, with cold and directed anger, lean and propulsive. It is angry. The anger at politics and societies and people ripples off the page in a stinging haze. As I approached the end, I kept checking to see how many pages I had left because there were characters I wantws to see survive and I honestly wasn’t sure how or if they were going to get out alive in the couple of thousand words left. And that is a remarkably rare thing, especially in this kind of novel.