Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Don Winslow Returns To Drug Wars In Thriller 'The Cartel'

Hillel Italie offers a piece in the Washington Times on Don Winslow and his new crime thriller, The Cartel.  

“People refer to this as the ‘Mexican drug problem’ and it’s NOT the Mexican drug problem. It’s the American drug problem. It’s the European drug problem,” the crime novelist says during a recent interview at the Landmark Tavern in Hell’s Kitchen, where he’s eating a late breakfast and discussing the events that inspired his new novel, “The Cartel.”

“We spend billions of dollars buying these drugs at the same time we spend billions of dollars a year trying to keep them from coming in. It’s that conflict, that schizophrenia, it’s that insanity that not only created the cartels but keeps them in business.”

The 61-year-old Winslow, bald and dark-eyed with a deliberate, focused speaking style, has become an unintentional expert on a subject that sickens him. Admittedly prone to “rant” once he gets started, he will invoke everything from philosophy books to World War II as he explains the long history of drugs in this hemisphere and how the U.S. got caught up in a conflict it doesn’t know how to stop.

In 2005, he published the 500-page “The Power of the Dog,” his brutal and acclaimed saga about the drug war and the rare honest man trying to end it - a maverick DEA agent named Art Keller.

Convinced, like Keller, the story was told, Winslow moved on to other projects, including Oliver Stone’s adaptation of his novel “Savages.” But he never stopped keeping an eye on the latest in Mexico and was horrified as the casualties and the cruelties only accumulated. More than 100,000 people have been killed because of the wars among the drug cartels, according to some studies.
“I started reading again and watching again and talking to people, and I think for probably a year or more denying to myself and everybody else that I was going to do that book,” he says. “The more I read the angrier I got.”

Blurbed by James Ellroy as the “‘War and Peace’ of dope war books,” the 600-page “The Cartel,” like “Power of the Dog,” is an intricately detailed narrative of the cartel life - where they live, the cars they drive, the clothes they wear. Winslow’s editor, Alfred A. Knopf publisher Sonny Mehta, said at times the author seemed so immersed in the world of his book he worried that Winslow might have “crossed some lines” and put himself in danger.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:
You can also read my Crime Beat column on Don Winslow and his earlier crime thriller, Savages, via the below link:

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