"The Border"

“The Border” is the third book of a trilogy that author Don Winslow has devoted his writing time to for 20-years plus. The first book in the trilogy "The Power of the Dog,” was followed by "The Cartel." If these earlier books are as gripping and accurate as “The Border” they would be worth seeking out as they deal with the timely issue of on-going drug wars in Central America and the United States.

There are several major drug cartels in Mexico, with constantly shifting power and alliances, and they extend into America as well. These cartels ship tons of their "product” to the United States, primarily because we provide a huge market.

The evolution of the drugs began years ago with cocaine and crack cocaine, went on to meth, heroin and lately heroin laced with fentanyl and a much more potent derivative, co-fentanyl, 100 times as strong: a single drop on the skin possibly proving lethal.

The drugs, with literally billions in sales, are primarily manufactured in Mexico, supplemented by precursors and finished product from China. The latter come into ports along the west coast of Mexico, controlled by different cartels.

A major part of “The Border” describes the desperate migration, from Honduras, Guatemala and southern Mexico, where the cartels compete violently, making life a living hell for citizens there. The exodus of frightened citizens to the United States is described in some detail, mirroring the recent migration "trains" of those looking for asylum in this country.

The main character of the book is Art Keller, a dangerous man who began his career hunting and "eliminating" the heads of the several cartels, most often successfully. He is directly involved in numerous murders of drug lords, an activity not sanctioned in America or in Central America.

Keller is tapped to head up the DEA by the United States government, and at first refuses until his wife, Marisol, a physician in Mexico, nearly killed in one of the drug wars, persuades him to do so. Keller accepts and sees his duties as primarily battling drug cartels and exposing high-up members of the United States government.

An interesting element of the novel is the thinly veiled description of our current president, implicating him as a participant, benefiting him monetarily. His "Wall" is described as a useless, multi-billion dollar undertaking that does virtually nothing to "protect our southern border."

One problem with “The Border” was the difficulty of sorting out the characters until about the middle section, when I can begin to recognize the "bad guys" from the "good guys" by name. Another potential problem may arise for readers offended by violence—the casual blood letting and butchery of warring members of the cartels. Finally, several of the story threads are not complete, which makes me wonder if there’s another book following “The Border.”