Winslow’s most ambitious yet, though its irony and pathos work better in individual episodes than across the whole broad...

THE POWER OF THE DOG

From the Power of the Dog series , Vol. 1

A sprawling, old-fashioned saga focuses 25 years of Mexico’s violent drug history through the interlocking loyalties, obsessions and vendettas of a DEA agent, a drug lord, a courtesan and a killer-for-hire.

Winslow (California Fire and Life, 1999, etc.) starts with Art Keller, a DEA adviser who wants so badly to take down Don Pedro Aviles, the Patron of Sinaloa, that he makes what turns out to be a bargain with three devils: rising drug power Miguel Angel Barrera and his nephews Adan and Raul. Sean Callan, meanwhile, grows up overnight in Hell’s Kitchen when his sudden resolve to save his friend O-Bop from mob intimidation turns them both into teenaged killers on the run. And California girl Nora Hayden, who’s always enjoyed her power over the older men hitting on her, decides to turn pro under the tutelage of a San Diego madam. President Nixon, showing that like Art Keller he’s consistently two steps behind the Barerra family, declares war on drugs, and the policy of throwing money at interdiction ushers in an era of related real-life disasters. Crack cocaine makes its debut. American forces back freedom fighters in Central America. An earthquake rocks Mexico City. The Catholic Church resumes normal relations with the Mexican government. Heroin makes a big comeback. Along the way, Nora misses true love with Callan and becomes Archbishop Juan Parada’s best friend and Adan’s mistress; mounting casualties in the War on Drugs cause Art to break with the Barreras and swear revenge against Adan; and countless deals between warring drug factions and governments are torpedoed by double-crosses. Few members of the large cast will survive the final curtain, and you’ll need a scorecard to keep track of the quick and the dead.

Winslow’s most ambitious yet, though its irony and pathos work better in individual episodes than across the whole broad historical canvas.

Pub Date: May 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-375-40538-0

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2005

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

Assembly-line legal thriller: flat characters, lame scene-setting, and short but somehow interminable action: a lifeless...

SPLIT SECOND

Two defrocked Secret Service Agents investigate the assassination of one presidential candidate and the kidnapping of another.

Baldacci (The Christmas Train, 2002, etc.) sets out with two plot strands. The first begins when something distracts Secret Service Agent Sean King and during that “split second,” presidential candidate Clyde Ritter is shot dead. King takes out the killer, but that’s not enough to save his reputation with the Secret Service. He retires and goes on to do often tedious but nonetheless always lucrative work (much like a legal thriller such as this) at a law practice. Plot two begins eight years later when another Secret Service Agent, Michelle Maxwell, lets presidential candidate John Bruno out of her sight for a few minutes at a wake for one of his close associates. He goes missing. Now Maxwell, too, gets in dutch with the SS. Though separated by time, the cases are similar and leave several questions unanswered. What distracted King at the rally? Bruno had claimed his friend’s widow called him to the funeral home. The widow (one of the few characters here to have any life) says she never called Bruno. Who set him up? Who did a chambermaid at Ritter’s hotel blackmail? And who is the man in the Buick shadowing King’s and Maxwell’s every move? King is a handsome, rich divorce, Maxwell an attractive marathon runner. Will they join forces and find each other kind of, well, appealing? But of course. The two former agents traverse the countryside, spinning endless hypotheses before the onset, at last, of a jerrybuilt conclusion that begs credibility and offers few surprises.

Assembly-line legal thriller: flat characters, lame scene-setting, and short but somehow interminable action: a lifeless concoction.

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2003

ISBN: 0-446-53089-1

Page Count: 406

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2003

Did you like this book?

more