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The Cartel
Cover of The Cartel
The Cartel
A Novel
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
From the internationally best-selling author of the acclaimed novel The Power of the Dog comes The Cartel, a gripping, true-to-life, ripped-from-the-headlines epic story of power, corruption, revenge, and justice spanning the past decade of the Mexican-American drug wars.
It's 2004. DEA agent Art Keller has been fighting the war on drugs for thirty years in a blood feud against Adán Barrera, the head of El Federación, the world's most powerful cartel, and the man who brutally murdered Keller's partner. Finally putting Barrera away cost Keller dearly—the woman he loves, the beliefs he cherishes, the life he wants to lead.
Then Barrera gets out, determined to rebuild the empire that Keller shattered. Unwilling to live in a world with Barrera in it, Keller goes on a ten-year odyssey to take him down. His obsession with justice—or is it revenge?—becomes a ruthless struggle that stretches from the cities, mountains, and deserts of Mexico to Washington's corridors of power to the streets of Berlin and Barcelona.
Keller fights his personal battle against the devastated backdrop of Mexico's drug war, a conflict of unprecedented scale and viciousness, as cartels vie for power and he comes to the final reckoning with Barrera—and himself—that he always knew must happen.
The Cartel is a story of revenge, honor, and sacrifice, as one man tries to face down the devil without losing his soul. It is the story of the war on drugs and the men—and women—who wage it.
From the Hardcover edition.
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
From the internationally best-selling author of the acclaimed novel The Power of the Dog comes The Cartel, a gripping, true-to-life, ripped-from-the-headlines epic story of power, corruption, revenge, and justice spanning the past decade of the Mexican-American drug wars.
It's 2004. DEA agent Art Keller has been fighting the war on drugs for thirty years in a blood feud against Adán Barrera, the head of El Federación, the world's most powerful cartel, and the man who brutally murdered Keller's partner. Finally putting Barrera away cost Keller dearly—the woman he loves, the beliefs he cherishes, the life he wants to lead.
Then Barrera gets out, determined to rebuild the empire that Keller shattered. Unwilling to live in a world with Barrera in it, Keller goes on a ten-year odyssey to take him down. His obsession with justice—or is it revenge?—becomes a ruthless struggle that stretches from the cities, mountains, and deserts of Mexico to Washington's corridors of power to the streets of Berlin and Barcelona.
Keller fights his personal battle against the devastated backdrop of Mexico's drug war, a conflict of unprecedented scale and viciousness, as cartels vie for power and he comes to the final reckoning with Barrera—and himself—that he always knew must happen.
The Cartel is a story of revenge, honor, and sacrifice, as one man tries to face down the devil without losing his soul. It is the story of the war on drugs and the men—and women—who wage it.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Excerpts-
  • Chapter One

    The Beekeepers

    We think we can make honey without sharing in the fate of bees.
    --­Muriel Barbery
    The Elegance of the Hedgehog

    Abiquiú, New Mexico
    2004

    The bell rings an hour before dawn.

    The beekeeper, released from a nightmare, gets up.

    His small cell has a bed, a chair, and a desk. A single small window in the thick adobe wall looks out onto the gravel path, silver in the moonlight, which leads up toward the chapel.

    The desert morning is cold. The beekeeper pulls on a brown woolen shirt, khaki trousers, wool socks, and work shoes. Walking down the hall to the communal bathroom, he brushes his teeth, shaves with cold water, and then falls in with the line of monks walking to the chapel.

    No one speaks.

    Except for chanting, prayers, meetings, and necessary conversation at work, silence is the norm at the Monastery of Christ in the Desert.

    They live by Psalm 46:10--­"Be still and know that I am God."

    The beekeeper likes it that way. He's heard enough words.

    Most of them were lies.

    Everyone in his former world, himself included, lied as a matter of course. If nothing else, you had to lie to yourself just to keep putting one foot in front of the other. You lied to other people to survive.

    Now he seeks truth in silence.

    He seeks God in the same, although he has come to believe that truth and God are the same.

    Truth, stillness, and God.

    When he first arrived, the monks didn't ask him who he was or where he came from. They saw a man with saddened eyes, his hair still black but streaked with silver, his boxer's shoulders a little stooped but still strong. He said that he was looking for quiet, and Brother Gregory, the abbot, responded that quietude was the one thing they had in abundance.

    The man paid for his small room in cash, and at first spent his days wandering the desert grounds, through the ocotillo and the sage, walking down to the Chama River or up onto the mountain slope. Eventually he found his way into the chapel and knelt in the back as the monks chanted their prayers.

    One day his route took him down to the apiary--­close to the river because bees need water--­and he watched Brother David work the hives. When Brother David needed help moving some frames, as a man approaching eighty did, the man pitched in. After that he went to work at the apiary every day, helping out and learning the craft, and when, months later, Brother David said it was finally time to retire, he suggested that Gregory give the job to the newcomer.

    "A layman?" Gregory asked.

    "He has a way with the bees," David answered.

    The newcomer did his work quietly and well. He obeyed the rules, came to prayer, and was the best man with the bees they'd ever had. Under his care the hives produced excellent Grade A honey, which the monastery uses in its own brand of ale, or sells to tourists in eight-­ounce jars, or peddles on the Internet.

    The beekeeper wanted nothing to do with the business aspects. Nor did he want to serve at table for the paying guests who came on retreats, or work in the kitchen or the gift shop. He just wanted to tend his hives.

    They left him alone to do that, and he's been here for over four years. They don't even know his name. He's just "the beekeeper." The Latino monks call him "El Colmenero." They were surprised that on the first occasion when he spoke to them, it was in fluent Spanish.

    The monks talked about him, of course, in the brief times when they were allowed casual conversation. The beekeeper was a wanted man, a gangster, a bank robber....

About the Author-
  • Don Winslow is the critically acclaimed, award-winning, internationally bestselling author of nineteen novels, including The Power of the Dog, Savages, The Winter of Frankie Machine and The Cartel. A former investigator, anti-terrorist trainer and trial consultant, Winslow lives in Southern California.

    www.don-winslow.com

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from April 27, 2015
    Set in 2004, Winslow’s masterly sequel to The Power of the Dog (2005) continues his epic story of the Mexican drug wars. DEA agent Art Keller has withdrawn from the world, tending bees for a New Mexico monastery, when he receives word that his old nemesis, Adán Barrera, leader of the Sinaloan cartel El Federación, has escaped from prison and is intent on reestablishing control of his empire. Keller agrees to return to duty and spearheads several attempts to capture Barrera, who remains elusive and seemingly protected by the Mexican police and government. As a war between Barrera’s cartel and several different competing factions ensues, violence overwhelms the city of Ciudad Juárez. Along the way, Keller falls in love with Marisol Cisneros, a beautiful doctor who heads a small but committed group of journalists and artists dedicated to resisting the violence. This exhaustively researched novel elucidates not just the situation in Mexico but the consequences of our own disastrous 40-year “war on drugs.” Author tour; 50,000–copy first printing. Agent: Shane Salerno, Story Factory.

  • Kirkus

    May 15, 2015
    A Mexican drug lord heads into a final showdown with the obsessed American Drug Enforcement Administration agent who has been dogging him for years in this vast and ambitious thriller from Winslow (The Kings of Cool, 2012, etc.). Winslow has envisioned his novel on an epic scale, evident not just in the length, almost 600 pages, but in the grave tone. Various chapters bear epigraphs from Hemingway, Shakespeare, and the Bible. At heart, this is the familiar tale of symbiosis between pursuer and pursued, reconfigured for the war on drugs and given a mean noir edge. The opponents are the Mexican narcotics kingpin Adan Barrera, who manages to escape from prison and resume control of his business, and Art Keller, the DEA agent who, exhausted and his marriage kaput, retreated in the years following his capture of Barrera to the silence of a monastery. Winslow, whose crime novels set in the surfing world (like The Dawn Patrol) had a casual ease, seems to have written each word of this very long book in granite. Sadly, that seriousness has provided mostly cliches on the order of "he was born on Christmas Day to campesinos in Apan, where life promised little opportunity except to make pulque or go into the rodeo" or "the son of an Anglo father who didn't want a half-Mexican kid, he always had one foot in each world, but never both feet in either." Like its hero, this novel hovers between two styles-pulp fiction and literary seriousness-which, taken together, render the genre formulas leaden.

    COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    January 1, 2015
    Finally, a follow-up to 2005's "The Power of the Dog", a bone-shaking novel about the drug trade that's being made into a movie. Here, DEA agent Art Keller has retired to a monastery after putting away leading drug lord Adan Barrera. Then Barrera arranges to serve the rest of his term in a Mexican prison.

    Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Robert Anglen Arizona Republic
    "The Cartel is the most important crime saga of the millennium. This is reporting and expose built around an intricate plot, finely etched characters and whip-crack dialogue. . . . Storytelling that matters."
  • Ivy Pochoda Los Angeles Times
    "Winslow has delivered two of the most . . . emotionally resonant novels in the past decade, 2005's The Power of the Dog and its epic conclusion, The Cartel. . . . His prose is sparse and ferocious, and his rapid-fire story hits you like bullets from an AK-47."
  • Clark Collis Entertainment Weekly
    "High-octane . . . The righteous indignation that fuels Winslow's tale of cops, cartels, and the near-apocalyptic havoc they can create is, to use a sadly appropriate word, addictive."
  • John Dugdale (Thriller of the Month) The Sunday Times (London)
    "Astoundingly ambitious . . . It is unlikely to be bettered this year."
  • Elise Taylor Vanity Fair
    "With corruption, violence, and a love story to boot, [The Cartel] is sure to have you grasping at the edge of your seat."
  • David Swanson Details
    "Winslow has long been hailed for his hard-boiled humor and storytelling, and this sequel to the best-selling The Power of the Dog shows why. . . . The coke-fueled, blood-soaked horror show that ensues would scare Tony Montana straight."
  • Hillel Italie Associated Press
    "The Cartel is an intricately detailed narrative of the cartel life. . . . Winslow has become an unintentional expert on a subject that sickens him."
  • Mark Rubinstein The Huffington Post
    "A sprawling epic of drug trafficking, murder, coercion, and corruption at the highest levels of Mexican law enforcement and government. . . . A grand and gripping epic novel."
  • John Wilkens The San Diego Union-Tribune
    "A monster of a novel--big in story, big in ambition. Based on real events, it's unavoidably violent but not voyeuristic. There is a deep understanding of the bonds and betrayals inherent to the drug trade, considerable musing about the difference between vengeance and justice, and a recognition that even in the face of soul-sapping depravity, there can be nobility and courage."
  • Alan Morrison Sunday Herald (Scotland)
    "The Cartel offers a riveting expose of a modern tragedy where the fast pace of the thriller narrative never stumbles over the painstaking attention paid to detail and background. More importantly perhaps, they offer an alternative perspective on the accepted history of America's involvement in the 'war on drugs', a shocking litany of greed, complicity and political machination. . . . Winslow [writes with] the authority of an investigative reporter and the narrative skill of a best-selling author."
  • Anna Mundow Barnes and Noble Review
    "Don Winslow is one of those shape-shifter novelists; now light, now dark. Funny one minute, terrifying the next. . . . A Wagernian epic of murder and vengeance . . . The Cartel is as much a work of meticulous journalism as artful fiction. But through the blood haze and the political fog, Winslow allows us to see--and even to care about--his skillfully drawn characters."
  • Publishers Weekly (starred review) Publishers Weekly (starred review)
    "Masterly . . . This exhaustively researched novel elucidates not just the situation in Mexico but the
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